I suppose that since Christmas is only twelve more “shopping” days away, I should sprinkle my holiday thoughts out into the cyber-world. So to honor this season of giving, I’ll pay homage to it in the theme of the famous story, A Christmas Carol.
Growing up, it was a semi-standard family holiday at my house. We had the tree, the gifts and the meal. The usual. I fondly remember:
- the familiar dusty smell of the artificial tree as my father tossed its parts down from the attic;
- my mother cursing under her breath as she attempted to untangle the lights;
- how the tinsel really didn’t look good past the first use (but we still rehung it every year);
- chasing my sister’s cat down the hall and cornering her in order to pull the tinsel out of her butt after its post-semi-digestion appearance (wish it wasn’t true);
- my step-grandfather’s rosy cheeks when he drank too much;
- my step-grandfather’s flatulence after he ate too much;
- the year the tree stayed up until April because my mom didn’t feel like taking it down;
- my dad manning the giant garbage bag for all of our wrapping paper and ribbon cast-offs.
If my childhood Christmas memories were made into a movie, the above would be part of the gag-reel or behind-the-scenes feature. My real stand-out memories would be the feature film though, and I still smile when I think about:
- how warm and welcoming our living room felt when the lights on the decorated tree were lit;
- getting to pick one gift to open on Christmas Eve—hoping I’d pick a good one;
- laying in my bed, unable to sleep, hoping I’d actually hear Santa when he arrived;
- waking up on Christmas day to an overflowing stocking hanging at the end of my bed (we didn’t have a fireplace to hang them from)
- the smell of the packs of Big Red gum Santa put in my stocking;
- the overwhelming excitement at seeing the tree lit up and all of the gifts waiting to be discovered;
- trying to unwrap my gifts slowly so I could make the morning last as long as possible;
- the Christmases we went for dinner at my Aunt’s house and I got to feel like a big girl around all of my older cousins;
- my Uncle’s whipped mash potatoes at those same dinners.
When I became a mother, Christmas meant more to me than gifts. I wasn’t raised in a religious/spiritual Christmas home; I was raised more so in a gifts-only Christmas home. I wanted my child(ren) to learn the true spirit of giving, enhanced by the religious/spiritual aspect, with a smattering of materialism tossed in once in a while as well.
I was a mom who refused to pad the pockets of the latest trends with my hard-earned money. Other than classic Disney videos (which I think were mostly for me), I didn’t buy my daughter any of the commercialized fads every child just had to have; I gifted her with things to allow her creativity to flourish. I remember the year she was gifted with some fancy-schmancy thing from a relative, but all she wanted to do was go home and play with the “mouse house” I made her out of facial tissue boxes. It was something my sister and I used to make ourselves every time a box of tissue was emptied (which was quite often since my father always used two tissues each time he blew his epic Jewish schnozz). I wish I had a photo of it to show off (the mouse house… not the schnozz), but maybe one day I’ll write an instructional guide for kids who like to be creative.
One of the rules of gift giving I had for my daughter from about two years-old and up, was that she make them. First she had to tell me who she wanted to give gifts to, and then I/we came up with a creative idea for it. Don’t worry, my two year-old was not left to use a hot glue gun on her own—I was a responsible mommy, and executed most of the plan myself for the first few years. We made jewelry boxes out of empty vitamin cases, ornaments from circular glass cut-outs, sun catchers, and so much more.
Proudly, in the present, my daughter is continuing that tradition with her daughter. I spent the day with them at the Crock A Doodle store in Dundas painting pottery for her loved ones. She gifted those lucky few with personalized ornaments or coasters adorned with either the baby’s handprint or footprint. All three of us were sick that day so, after six hours of creative efforts, my daughter and I were exhausted (I was mainly in charge of entertaining the baby and then getting her to sleep after each feed), but the owner, Leanne, and her staff were so gracious and helpful during our marathon session.
Now that we have a sweet new addition to our family, my Christmas wish is simple. I wish we all support her getting to know every aspect of Christmas—all the way from the spiritual/religious meaning to the joy of true gift giving—and tossing in a little materialism once in a while.
I look forward to starting a tradition of:
- my daughter and granddaughter helping to make my usually holiday sweets for our friends and family;
- assisting my granddaughter with the handmade gifts for her loved ones;
- having a tastefully decorated home (which we can’t do in our do-for-now-home because it’s too small and we have two large dogs whose “tails of destruction” would be the demise of our décor);
- hosting Christmas dinner at my dream harvester table in our forever-home.
One of the most important things I hope my Christmases will become, is a holiday my husband learns to love and look forward to. Before he met me, he was only exposed to the negative, materialistic aspect of what the holiday can be.
Do you know what my husband loves about Christmas? The music. He loves it a little too much if you ask me—especially for someone who goes all “Grinch” the minute the holiday rolls around. If a man can be so passionate about listening to the same dozen classic holiday songs for eight weeks straight (redone, of course, by every singer du jour from the past eight decades), there must be less Ebenezer Scrooge in him than he tries to make us believe. Surely we can find a way to rid him of his inner Grinch and make the holidays something he looks forward to and wants to be a part of. And if it means I have to play his favorite song—Driving Home for Christmas by Chris Rea—over and over again while he sleeps (in order to brainwash him into the Christmas spirit), so be it. I’m willing to do what it takes.
My Christmas goal: To bring the true meaning of Christmas into our blended home for the first time ever.