Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas' Past

Christmas is coming…There I said it! It is really only two months away and now that we have three kids I am starting to wonder if July would be a good time to begin planning for Christmas presents going forward.

Having said that I have been struggling over the last few years to continue the connection that I have always had with the holiday. We didn’t have much as kids, we never went hungry or anything, but at Christmas my parents did everything that they could to give us what we wanted. I honestly don’t think I can remember a year where I was not happy with what I got. I learned to set my expectations appropriately so that what I received was in line with what Santa could bring.

Those days were filled with very specific traditions. We always had a Scotch Pine, which my parents discontinued recently, that my Dad would trim and set up. My Mom, my Sisters and I would decorate it with baubles and things that we had accumulated since I was a kid. In the end our tree was a gaudy assortment of the Christmas detritus of years past. I absolutely loved it. It was a connection to my childhood and the one season that I adored.

Now that I have my own family I find that sometimes I struggle at Christmas. We are still establishing our holiday traditions because of how young our family is. Andrea is allergic to pine so a real tree is out of the question. No matter how much I love the idea of a real tree I hate the idea of my wife being uncomfortable. She offered to just dose herself with Benadril for the holidays once but I couldn’t ask her to do that.

I find the lights on the trees to be kind of annoying now. I used to love the flickering of the coloured lights that we used to have as kids but now we have LEDs that are energy efficient and they don’t feel as warm or inviting to me. I liked watching my Dad go through a string to find the one bulb that was shot and I actually enjoyed doing that myself when I first got my own place.

I struggle to continue traditions from my family such as placing cards on the tree for everyone in the family. This is only due to the fact that Christmas Cards are ridiculously expensive these days. But on Christmas morning we would go downstairs and the tree would be covered in them: From my parents to us kids and vice versa as well as from us kids to each other. It’s unfortunate to think that this isn’t practical, but that money could be spent on presents.

I find I have no connection to any of the television specials that are on now either. I don’t get excited unless The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty or Mickey’s Christmas Carol are on. The rest of them are just a bit silly. I am also waiting for Charlie Brown’s Christmas to be discontinued due to how religious it is.

I feel like they had Christmas right until about the mid 80’s and then it just fell apart. The magic was lost. I used to get excited about the Sears Christmas Wishbook because it was the best way to tell that Christmas was on the way. Now you can just search the web and find the top presents out there and order them on Amazon. Not that this is a bad thing because I find myself ready to snap whenever I go Christmas shopping.

Part of me wants to try an Olde Fashioned Christmas. Something out of a Dicken’s novel without the dirt of Victorian London around me. I would like to give gifts that mean something, possibly even gifts that are homemade, be it in my home or some other home from someone who has much more skill than I do. I have even been looking at the Lee Valley catalogue because they have some really neat wooden toys that I think would be fun to put together with the boys.

I guess what I am saying is that Christmas isn’t what it used to be. We can’t sing Christmas songs without offending someone, we can’t say Merry Christmas without upsetting people. I feel like we have squeezed all the joy out of the Season. I used to look forward to the Christmas concert that we had at school or when I was in High School we would get together before classes began in the school lobby and sing Christmas Carols. At those sing-a-longs we had Hindus, Jews, Christians, Atheists, a veritable plethora of beliefs. No one was upset because these were the songs of our childhood, our parent’s childhood.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant to be a rant about Christmas being ruined by people who are hyper-sensitive (though I think there is something in that); it is me mourning that in the end it will probably never live up to what it was when I was a kid. I think I am just trying to find my own way of getting a bit of that feeling back.

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