Looking Back – And Forward – At Christmas
I’m sure a lot of you are thinking the same thing I am today – ‘We made it!’
The month of December seems both a marathon and a sprint, days and nights spent planning, shopping, arranging travel, sending out cards, decorating, more shopping and then just a tad more shopping. The stores and malls this year have been more crowded than ever, which for economists is a good sign. For those caught in those crowds, it was a nightmare.
Usually at this time of year, churches would have a little less pew space. Not so this year. I guess there were too many sales at Target and Walmart luring folks away. It’s funny, we watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special and the very things Chuck was lamenting 50 years ago still hold true today, on a scale I’m sure he could never have imagined. (On a side note, I met the voice of Charlie Brown a couple of months ago. Funny guy. He was just sentenced to prison a week ago)
Today, with all of the Christmas cookies baked and nothing to do but wait for the big man to come down our imaginary chimney, I have time to reflect on all of the Christmases I’ve experienced – the good and the sad.
When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was spent at my grandparent’s house. I loved Christmas Eve there. For me, it was even better than Christmas. They had a small ceramic Christmas tree and little village on Grandpa’s work desk. He had the 8 track player softly playing Christmas songs. We opened presents in the living room, ate and then my sister and I would rush into the TV room to watch the first Christmas cartoon ever made, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. My aunts and uncles would come over and for one night, the family was aligned in perfection. Everyone but my mother and sister is gone now. It’s easy to get maudlin, but I choose to remember the good times we all had and to be grateful for them.
I remember Christmas Eve’s in the 90s (and just over the past 2 years again) when we weren’t sure my wife would be with us because she was so sick. Christmas is her holiday. I swear she was a North Pole elf in another life. The best present I received each of those Christmases was my wife, smiling by the tree.
Seventeen years ago we spent our first Christmas with someone we were told we would never have – our daughter. She was so tiny, the little stuffed Santa we all took pictures of her sitting next to was almost bigger than her. I think that day was the happiest I’ve ever seen my family.
Now my girls are teens and, believe it or not, just plain awesome. They’re smart and witty and sarcastic, just like dear old dad. This Christmas Eve, the 4 of us will hunker together. I’m taking them in the car to tour the Christmas lights. Then we’ll come home, make dinner and watch Christmas specials until it’s time to head off to bed. Christmas day will be spent with family, me the pack mule carting presents and food from one house to the next. There will be much merriment, and I’m sure some heated words about whatever topic sets off our booze addled brains. If you can’t yell at family about things that concern no one, what’s the point?
We once played bocce in the snow after dinner, in the dark. That was a blast. It’s going to rain this year, so it’ll be the guys chomping on stogies under and umbrella, the kids running around in the mud. The key is, we’ll all be together.
Because that’s what Christmas is really about. Family. And love.
Here’s wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!