Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Time

When I was a little girl, I loved Christmas for the wrong reasons (Santa, gifts, gifts, gifts) but also for some of the right reasons (Family time, school holidays, making gifts and decorations). The memories I love the most are the Christmas eve, Christmas Day and first day back to school after the holiday moments
. Up until I was 10 we lived on a farm setting, out in the country. There was a lot of outdoor time with my older brother, Bruce, and 4 sisters. I can remember the process of bundling up like the boy in The Christmas Story and going outside to play for hours. We made full use of our long 4 seater toboggan and sleds, pulling each other around and finding hills on the property or down the road. Wheee!

We all had skates, hand me downs from one to the other and it didn't matter what colour they were, we wore them anyway. We skated not on home made ponds but instead on the laneway or any natural frozen creeks out behind the house or barn. It didn't matter how bundled we were, our feet and fingers were always cold until we came in rosy-cheeked for some hot chocolate Mom made in a big pot on the wood burning stove. That makes me sound old........way back when........well, I guess I am not of the younger generation anymore.

Christmases were exciting. December at school was all about concerts and plays. I was lucky and popular enough one year to be chosen to play Suzy Snowflake in all her white adornment. I loved the costume! Mine was evern better than this picture I found!

From the moment we were let out of school, hopping on the bus with all our art work made in class during the month of December, to the big day, we smiled and giggled. I can picture now all the construction paper Santas'
with cotton balls on his hat and coat, trimmed with a black belt and cut out boots. Ho ho ho! I'm sure they adorned our fridge or walls in the house over the season.

Our letter to Santa Claus had been written and walked out to the mailbox at the end of the lane long ago in the hopes we weren't selfish and asked for too much. I know we always got a game and puzzle for the family to enjoy and one year I wanted a transister radio and another a warm white fuzzy hat that snapped up under my chin. I wasn't disappointed.

I don't recall decorating the tree, which is odd, but I do remember that Bruce and I were scuttled off to bed really early on Christmas eve so we were asleep before Santa came. I'm not saying we went to sleep right away, because I know it was hours later before we stopped whispering to each other and dropped off.

In the morning, because I shared a room with Gayle and Donna, I know I was the first one awake trying to be patient before I woke them up with "let's go get our stockings!" The ritual was to first peek down the stairwell.
Confirmation: Yup, he came.
Deliberation: Should I go down by myself or wait for Bruce?
Hesitation: Standing at my stocking (either a pair of Daddy's wool socks pinned together over a chair or often a pair of my tights filled to the brim with fruit, candy canes, chocolates, socks, underwear and out of the top a book of some sort) wondering if I should touch?
Fascination: Staring google-eyed at the mass of presents wrapped and unwrapped under the tree. Follow-through: Running upstairs, grabbing my brother, grabbing our stockings, sneaking into Mom and Daddy's room to climb on the bed to open them. We all knew that this was not allowed before 7 am and always always always respected that. Yes, I still 'believed' up until I was at least 8 or 9 yrs. old so didn't want to break any rules!

Christmas morning meant we all had to be dressed, eat a good breakfast of porridge and toast, do the dishes up, spread the quilt on the floor and sit around with as much patience as we could muster up wait for Daddy to come and sit before we touched any presents under the tree. He moved slower on this day than any other day of the year. And we had 'ants in our pants' as Mom used to say to encourage him to 'speed it up'.

We had family visits, some aunts and uncles, some cousins especially when we were very young and always shared gifts with them. Something as simple as a colouring book and NEW pointed crayons were welcomed. Going back to school that first day was a thrill, sharing our new gifts with friends.

When I was first married with my own children, I revisited those same practices. My husband and I blended family traditions and made it as exciting as we could for Bridgette and Patrick. They have their own stories and memories to tell, I'm sure. The part I didn't care for was having to bundle up the kids to go visit our parents on both sides. Their new toys would be left unattended until Boxing Day but the dinner was always great and there were new gifts to open.

Now that I'm older still, our children are grown and have wee ones of their own, Christmas has lost something for me. It has become so commercialized that the children are now asking for Ipads, WII games, XBox One and PlayStation 4 as their big gift. Parents have a real challenge when all they really want is to see their little ones faces light up with joy that Santa came. I miss those moments with my young children and cherish the memories.

Bill and I are not winter people and plan to get away from the cold, damp, wetness of the Canadian winter as soon as we can. This means Christmas in Arizona or California. I've never spent Christmas away from my children/family/a cold winter so not really sure how it will affect me but I'm willing to find out!

As the money got easier over the years of our relationship, we were able to spend a little more on our 6 children and grandchildren. We do what we can and don't expect anything other than that from them if they so choose. We are just grateful now for the time we can get them altogether for our Christmas dinner. In the future it will be gift cards, cheques sent by mail or e-transfers no doubt.

For each other, we play it by ear. As long as our dog, Clemson, is happy, we are. You know, that unconditional love thing.

Santa doesn't come anymore, the gifts under the tree are seldom a surprise, so we are basically being good just because it's a habit and it makes life a whole lot better.

In closing, on behalf of Bill and I, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and as many safe and happy holidays as your own personal schedule of life allows.

Thank you for stopping in! You are welcome anytime!