Today is the 28th of December and society is slowly recuperating from the Christmas holiday and quickly preparing for the turn of the new year. Christmas is celebrated on December 25th as we all know, but we also have learned that this holiday is not an event that limits itself to one single day. Christmas is certainly a season that may exceed even the traditional 25 days. It makes one consider what Christmas has become and more so, what will we make it mean to the little ones learning from us.
Honestly, I could deal with the “25 days of Christmas” whereas all the stores start setting out their seasonal Christmas products and displays and all the homes start hanging lights and decorating trees. Let’s face it, that isn’t what happens at all; some houses never take down their Christmas lights and the stores start promoting Christmas earlier and earlier every year. This year one could easily go in search of Halloween candy in one aisle and also find candy canes in same place. You could pick up a fairy princess dress, a hairy gorilla mask, icicle lights, and plastic lighted snowman all in the same trip to the local general store. The unofficial Christmas shopping season traditionally started in the early morning hours the day after Thanksgiving, yet some stores try to get an edge on this season by opening their doors and having misleading sales right after Thanksgiving dinner. This shows the power retail has on our holidays when the commercialism of Christmas can actually change the meaning of Thanksgiving and begin to influence Halloween. To make matters worse, there is also the “Christmas in July” campaign whereas I boycott all radio stations playing Frosty the snowman during the summer months.
With all the forced jolly and cheer the corporate giants try to force feed us, they miss the mark on the whole Christmas spirit thing. They may be interested in sales and figures but that isn’t what Christmas is supposed to be about, at least not to me. The “not to me” is very important because Christmas is an individual feeling that is shared with family and friends so each of us have our own expectations of what Christmas means and those meanings go beyond the most important fact that Christmas is supposed to be about Christ. We each have little traditions, goals, and sense of what gives us the spirit during the holidays; unfortunately, sometimes those things we seek can be difficult to create or even find. When was the last time you sat down and just asked yourself “what does Christmas mean to me?” Hopefully it wasn’t that long ago, hopefully you looked around you on Christmas day and saw what it means to you.
For me, I smile when I see children excited about Santa and my heart melts when I hear them sing Christmas carols. I feel it is so important to focus on the children because their childhood Christmas memories will create how they feel about the holiday as they grow up and become adults, and then parents. Your feelings about Christmas most certainly can be a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Even the words you use can influence others, for instance say “Merry Christmas” … It is hard to say that phrase without feeling even a little smile generate, and that feeling passes on with those words to those who hear them, even those whom you are not talking to; call it second-hand Christmas blessings. Now say “Bah Humbug,” can’t you feel yourself frowning? Seriously, if you go around saying this it cause your inner self to feel as if you were sad and I promise you that others will see that also. When I say “Bah Humbug” I can feel my shoulders slump and my head begin to feel heavy and before I know it I am looking at the ground instead of seeing all the joy this season brings.
Imagine walking through the mall and listening to the kids giggle and tell each other what they want to tell Santa. In the distance, there is the ever-ringing bells of the Salvation Army calling all spare change to help those in need. Endless joyful Christmas music flowing through the air causing your step to fall into stride with the flow of the sound of Christmas cheer. You walk into the store and see the perfect gift that makes you think of someone close to your heart. You find yourself smiling and greeting complete strangers and even at times throwing a few more coins in the red kettle. If the spirit is growing strong in you, you may even pick up a toy for the toys for tots’ campaign because you remember how precious your kids are when they open presents on Christmas morning.
Now imagine leaving all the gifts well-hidden and sharing laughter with your family because you all know what tomorrow brings. You try to do something to enforce the belief in Santa or the Spirit of Christmas that will out do what you had done the year before. You may look out the window with your little ones just before tucking them in for the night and tell how Santa is on his way with Rudolph leading the sleigh with his bright red nose. If the night is clear, you may just see a blinking red light passing through the night sky and their first though will certainly be of Santa. You may even take jingle bells and tie them to a fishing line and toss them over the house just enough so they dangle above their bedroom windows. After they are in bed and you hear them quietly walk around and whisper to each other you give the fishing line a few tugs and listen to them make a bee line back to bed. I could go on and tell you about the sleigh marks in the snow that you may just create at 2 o’clock in the morning long after they finally fell asleep, or even the stomping on the roof, which by the way you may want to hold on to the latter on the way down.
Most importantly, imagine waiting until the very last sound in the house falls asleep and you carefully pull out all the hidden gifts and spend hours wrapping them perfectly and placing them under the tree. You fill the stockings and make certain you eat some cookies leaving one with a bit mark in them, don’t forget to take the carrots. You also must drink some milk even if it’s been sitting on the table for several hours now, ok at least make it look like the milk had been drank. After everything is perfectly placed you just stand back and look at what Christmas creates in you and then you quietly go to bed in hopes for a few hours before the smallest angel in heaven whispers to your ear “daddy, daddy wake up … its Christmas and Santa came.” You can’t possibly hold your eyes shut any longer and you look into those beautiful little eyes and hear “there are lots of presents, even for me”.
Ah the traditional waiting for Christmas breakfast and listening to the children talk about the gifts with their names on them and as they get older they try to talk you into opening just one present before breakfast, yet you hold fast because what they don’t realize is how much you love just listening to them before they tear up all that paper. You hold all the little ideas and what if thoughts close to your heart for Christmas morning alone to you is Christmas. The moments when all is peaceful and the joy from seeing Christmas evolve is the one thing that makes all the other facets of this holiday bearable. Surely, there are people who share dinner with you and all sorts of laughter and stories, but the morning cheer created with just your little family and especially the smiles on the faces of the little ones is what truly makes the Christmas spirit flow.
These are the Christmases I remember, and most certainly the ones I hold dear to my heart. I hope all of you out there can have some Christmases like these or even better so that those memories will last through the Christmases when there is little joy to be had. This year showed me just what Christmas alone feels like and as hard and painful it was I sat here and tried to relive all the days of Christmas past. Oh, the joys we once had all together, even just the little things. With all the early commercial starts and influence the big retail try to have on this holiday. With all the stress and emotions that this season brings, Christmas can be the most joyful and also the saddest time of the year. It is so important to share some Christmas cheer with others and help create joyful memories for all because it just may be those little things that will matter in the end.