Since when did Christmas become the commercialized beast that it is today?
When I look back on my childhood I do not recall “black Friday” being one of the mandatory days of Christmas. Yet, here we are and here it is. When I think back on Christmas, what I recall is this:
My Mawmaw sitting at the stove making some random meal and singing Christmas carols. Humming them then singing the lyrics she knew. I stood in the kitchen doorway of my grandparents’ house in Eccles, I could not have been more than maybe nine, the radio was on and carols were playing. When Christmas rolls around that image comes to mind. Mawmaw stirring some dish as it cooked, the smell of homecooking and her hum/singing those old school Christmas carols.
When I was very young we had a bit of a routine that, as an adult, has a muddled timeline for me – see, my Daddy was the local Santa Claus. I can remember heading to my Uncle Freddy and Aunt Jean’s house for their Christmas Eve party. We were in our poop-brown Pinto (yeah, we had one – we were not the Cadillac kind). Going up Whipple Hill our Pinto got stuck. I can remember a handful of men coming out of a house, giggling and saying, “Ah shit, Santa is stuck” and then helping us out of the ditch we were in. Daddy patted a couple of heads, handed out a few candy canes to the kids who made their way to Santa’s unconventional sleigh – and away we went to the party. I can remember that we were not poor but we were by no means upper class. I can remember that a huge treat for me was the shrimp platter at this party because it was not something we could afford on a regular basis.
My Christmas memories are wrapped with thoughts of my Grandparents celebrating their wedding anniversary as we opened Christmas gifts at their house on Christmas Eve. Any gift I received was amazing and cherished because I did not have the arrogant belief that my parents owed me a huge expensive gift. I remember all of my aunts, uncles and cousins that were within driving distance being there. The overwhelming sense of family.
Christmas morning was my parents making coffee and me sitting next to the tree waiting patiently. Were my gifts crazy expensive? No. We had a modest income and the presents reflected our lifestyle. But, again, each one that I unwrapped brought me joy.
I cannot recall a single Christmas gift I received as a kid. Crazy, right? What I do recall is family, love, the scents of pine, homecooking and being together. I have tried to instill the same in my children. Because, when the lights are taken down, the food is put away and the last level of that “had to have” game is completed – what do we really have left but our Family. They are what matter – they are what we should celebrate, not some super duper gift that will be yesterday’s news once school is back in session.
As you prepare for your holidays (whichever you celebrate) – remember this one thing : Family – they’re not on sale.