It’s really no wonder that I have some ambivalent feelings around Christmas. I grew up without a secular tradition. Until I was a teenager, all of my Christmas memories were centered around church services. We sang a lot of hymns about the birth of Jesus but I never heard “Here Comes Santa Claus” except on the radio.
It was okay. The only real angst was returning to school after winter vacation and answering the hubbub of questions around what I got for Christmas. I got a good dinner?
One year (I later knew that it was the year before my parents’ divorce) we had a tree. Perhaps my mother had always wanted to celebrate Christmas.* There was still no mention of Santa Claus but we had stockings filled with fruit and nuts and gifts under the tree. My older sister and I, unused to Christmas presents, secretly unwrapped everything and re-wrapped it all perfectly. No surprises there – but we were happy to get clothes.
And then Christmas became a team event. My husband and I returned from our honeymoon on Christmas day, penniless and hungry. We were happy to visit family We had two childless holidays celebrated four ways – My mother…a tree, my father and his wife…a cozy meal on Christmas Eve, My in-laws…gifts and a big dinner, and our little apartment Christmas with a tiny tree that my husband sprayed AFTER the ornaments were on.
Christmas traditions for my children? My husbands family led the way. (They were the Santa for many years.) And it all became a recognizable season of the year as practiced by all the stories and movies.
Now? you’ll have to read about it tomorrow…
*Mother loved Christmas and all of its trappings (minus Santa). Perhaps, like me, she loved the color and lights. I think, though, that the promise of love and family and good will exemplified her dream of how life should be.