***Christmas has always been a favourite time of year for me. ***
Yes, it’s a commercialised holiday with all the shopping and though the gifts may seem more plentiful, larger and more expensive than past years, it is one’s own efforts that keep that at an acceptable threshold. Yes, the focus of media may have shifted from its religious roots to sleek advertising, but getting your religious fix can come from more reliable forums. Yes, the movement away from a Christian-centric “Merry Christmas” greeting to a more generic “Happy Holidays” can seem like tradition is diluting, but I’d rather think of it as all-encompassing and a broader acceptance of all traditions.
All in all, for me Christmas has remained relatively unchanged: time with family altogether, the joy in the eyes of those I’ve bought gifts for, and general well-intentioned spirit abounding. With exceptions here and there (e.g. I’m currently surrounded by decorated palm trees as we stay together in my parents’ Florida home, with an outdoor hot tub and pool dip this evening), my Christmas seasons have often followed this path:
* The first week of December we put up the tree (in my case, always artificial) with carols playing in the background.
* As we buy gifts in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we sit and wrap them in bursts, decorating each gift to varying degrees of detail (some with bows, some with scissor-made curled ribbon, others with knick knack ornaments), and under the tree they go.
* Around the second week of December, there’s a cookie swap party, where friends bake their favourite kinds of cookies, bring them over and we eat as much as we can take of all sorts. The variety of all go home with each person.
* We drive or walk around to see all the lights throughout the city.
* On Christmas Eve, kids open one present each. Then after they go to be, we fill the the gaps with many more presents after they go to bed.
* On Christmas morning, we come together again at 7AM to first open the stockings and then presents. The “mom” of the house hands each person a gift one by one from under the tree and we take turns opening (although kids usually have several more than adults). Photos of the process abound.
* Once finished, we make a big breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, tea) and eat together. During the remainder of the day, we meet with other family members who’ve had their own Christmas mornings at their houses and rest.
* Turkey dinner with all the trimmings is made all afternoon, with the delicious aroma increasing until finally it’s time to eat altogether again.
* Christmas night we watch a movie, comfortably snuggled on the couches with blankets.
* On Boxing Day, many go out to the mall to shop more. Others stay in from the cold and eat turkey leftovers.
Despite whatever angst we may suffer about events around the globe, the over-commercialisation of the season, or the changes in perspective as our lives change, the holidays are often what we make of them. I hope yours, your friend’s, your family’s, and your colleagues’ are filled with love, support and goodwill. Pass it on. Many will be glad to hear it.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
PS – How are your holiday seasons different than mine? I’d love to hear.