Reflections of Christmas Past
Updated: Jun 18, 2022
Christmas is always my favorite time of the year. You ask most people, and they too would say that it is theirs also.
You ask people why it's their favorite time of the year, and they will usually say it's primarily for some of the most popular reasons. As stated on sites like: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/christmas-best-holiday these are some of the top 10 reasons:
1. Family time
2. Avoiding Responsibilities
5. The Birth of Christ
6. Christmas Music
7. Christmas Movies
9. Christmas is the one of the few holidays you can give someone a gift.
10. No assignments.
As for me, most of the above are NOT the reasons that Christmas is my favorite time of the year.
1. Yes, when I was a child, this was one of the holidays that my Father was home for at least two solid weeks every night for dinner. And usually - was one of the few times of the year that my Mother was actually in a good mood, and happy. With our moving a lot while growing up, this was also one of the few times of the year that we would usually see my grandparents. This would also be the time of year that we would usually do family game night, or play cards (mostly to keep my brothers and I from sitting in front of the tv, or from killing each other, or complaining that we were bored).
2. As far as avoiding responsibilities - this was only true when it came to avoiding school work, or responsibilities outside of social responsibilities. Because these would of course ramp up. The house had to be super cleaned because of my grandparents coming - or because of expecting company. Extra time in the kitchen was always necessary to make sure that we had a meal in the refrigerator for any one that my Mother found was in need. Extra baking needed to be done to make sure that we always had a cookie plate ready to give a neighbor, or person that came for a visit. I personally didn't mind the baking as long as it was a day that my Mother was in a good mood, and she wasn't over critical. There were some memories of her screaming at me that this tray of cookies weren't good enough, and she would take the entire tray and throw them in the garbage, or give them to my older brother and his friends - since they weren't fit to be given or fed to her friends. I'm just glad that she didn't like sugar cookies - because I knew that those would never pass her perfectionism tests.
3. Snow - this was one of my favorites when we lived in places where it would snow.
One of my favorite memories was being at my maternal grandparents farm in Missouri for Christmas, and it had just snowed. My Mother's youngest sibling - was my favorite aunt. She wasn't all that older than us, and would play with us. She showed me how to eat icicles, and make snow cakes, and how to make the perfect snowball. We had many snowball fights with my siblings and cousins. She also showed me how to make ice-cream out of snow!! That was some of the best ice-cream I have ever had!
4. Presents was a stressful time when I was a kid. Because, it became just another example of the difference of preferences in my family. Yes - my parents would tell you that we all got the same number of presents each. But, you could tell that there was a lot more thought and heart that went into my little brother's gifts over my older brother's and mine. My Mother would make a good attempt at a few of them... but, there were usually a lot more of the gifts that had no thought put into it at all - that would make it obvious that they were just "fillers".
Unfortunately, this is one trait that I picked up on - and that I battle with as a parent too. But, the difference is that I seem to have "fillers" just to make it seem that it is a bigger Christmas than it really is. Like this year for example - I found that we really only had 1 big gift for each of my kids... and my childhood kicked in and told me that just 1 gift for my kids wasn't enough. So - I went along and purchased another 10 little no thought gifts to "fill-in" Christmas for my kids. Of course when they opened them, and would look at it with a confused look... it hit home. That once again, I was letting my childhood push me to do things as an adult that is unnecessary.
5. The REAL reason that I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!
I loved everything about celebrating the Birth of Christ. The candles, the poinsettias, the evergreens all decorated in churches.... but, especially the nativity scenes. I have a collection of these today. Not as big of a collection that I had at one time (due to a big loss due to a house fire... more about that later). But, I have been rebuilding it as I can.
But, this also brings me to #6 - Christmas Music. I am one of those people that can't wait for Thanksgiving - because this was the day that Christmas music is socially acceptable to be played 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
My love for Christmas Music was because of my Mother. She would play the same 6 records on repeat every chance she got. These were long compilation albums. With a lot of the oldies but goodies. Songs like "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus", "All I want for Christmas is...", "White Christmas"... and so many others. But, she also had one that had, "Silent night", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", "Little Drummer Boy", and other classic Christmas Carols/Hymns. Every time that it was my turn to pick... that was the one that I would choose. I remember many times... laying on the shag carpet in front of the record player - just listening. I remember lying there imagining the angels singing, or the little drummer boy playing in front of baby Jesus in the manger.
There was one day that my Mother asked me what I was doing. And, I told her that I was imagining the angels singing to Jesus. And I remember her response so clearly. She looked at me in disgust - and told me to stop being stupid. I remember starting to cry, and having her classic retort of, "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about!"
I know that it's childish... but, I sometimes now wish that I would have responded by asking why thinking that was stupid. Because it our teachings, we are told that angels sing to God all the time. It doesn't say just to God the Father.... so, it leads me to believe that the writings mean Jesus - the son of God as well since he is part of the trinity of God. Right?!?
But moving on....
7. Christmas movies - as a child, we were only allowed to watch the classics on tv. The classics like Charlie Brown's Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, the Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is coming to town, or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And this was usually because my parents would be in the other room playing cards, and drinking wine with other adults. So, all of the kids were put in front of the tv to watch the "Holiday special" for the evening.
As an adult now, I love Christmas movies. Although I still have never seen "It's a Wonderful Life", or "the Christmas Story" the whole way through... I do have to say that my favorite Christmas movies are Santa Clause with Tim Allen (all 3 of them), or Scrooged with Bill Murray.
8. Food - I love food no matter what time of year it is. But, there are a few good Christmas food memories from Childhood. The Christmas ribbon candies that my Grandfather loved so much. I've tried to share this with my kids... and they don't enjoy them as much as I did. Probably has something to do with the fact that I wasn't allowed much candy when I was a kid. This was one of the few times that I was allowed to indulge some. But, I also LOVE coconut macaroon cookies. I'm not sure if that is partially because my Mother doesn't like them - or not. But, they are still my favorite in Christmas cookie tins!
But - I can tell you that there are plenty of awful Christmas food stories that I could tell you from childhood as well. However, my husband would tell you that this wouldn't just be limited to holiday food either. Let's just say that there was a reason that I was underweight growing up - until after I moved out of m parents home.
9. I never found enjoyment out of giving gifts when I was a child. This was something that was extremely stressful for me. Because, anything that I ever gave my parents - was never good enough (and still wasn't even as an adult). My Mother always found fault in any gift that I gave her. My Father would give a half smile after opening his gift, and would put it down next to him on the floor... and it would remain there until it was time to clean up. And then - the gift would just disappear never to be seen again.
There was only 1 time that this was ever different. I gave my Mother a gift from the Bradford Exchange. It was a Mother-Daughter plate one year for Mother's day. I'll admit - I didn't put much thought into this gift, and didn't really even remember giving it to her to be honest. But, when I came home for a visit years later - she had it predominately displayed in her living room. And told me that she tells everyone that comes to the house that this was one of her prized items that she got from her daughter. This truly confused me. And to this day - I don't know why she would connect on this one gift.
It truly has me sit and shake my head at times.
10. The no assignments was something that I truly hated when I was a child. I know that you will think that I am weird. But, I was that one kid that would ask (actually beg) for homework or extra projects to do during Christmas break at school.
I would ask for extra work to do because it would give me something to do, and help me to escape my reality. Even if it was silly crossword puzzles, or coloring assignments, or multiplication memorization tables. It would keep my mind busy, and give me something else to think about.
It was the Christmas break of me being in 5th grade that should have changed my life then... we were given an assignment to write a short story. It was supposed to be based on our family Christmas traditions. But, I decided to write a fictional short story. It was then that I fell in love with writing. I wrote about a young girl that lived in an orphanage and had been gifted being adopted and finding a family for Christmas. Unfortunately, my teacher thought that I was writing about myself, and called my Mother to tell her how the story made her feel. And to congratulate my Mother on the adoption. This of course became a huge fiasco, and I ended up getting my first "F"- and was told that it was because I didn't follow the directions that was given to me.
But, never the less - I found my love for writing.
I am curious what your response to the top 10 reasons why Christmas is the favorite holiday is. Please, comment and let me know!
After going through the list, I guess I have to admit... that Dominic Turnea was more on the mark than I thought. Except that I think that he missed one big part of Christmas. Or at least what my #1 favorite thing about Christmas is.
And that is.... the MAGIC of Christmas!!
I pray that each and every one of you experience the magic of Christmas for yourself.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
Until the next stop of our journey....