I am not that old but I did grow up in a simpler time and in a simpler place. I still remember having a black and white television and that a party line was not a hot dating website but rather a shared community phone where you could actually listen in on other people’s lives. We had green carpet in a three bedroom mobile home that was not much bigger than a matchbox.
Christmas was a lot different then as well. We were not ashamed of using the name “Christmas” even though it did not really mean anything spiritual to us. It was the time of year when we were supposed to think about others and do good things and have time with family. There were novelties that were not around at other times of the year like Mandarin oranges, and a big case of pop that Dad brought home from his trip to the city. There was shopping in the next town over, when me and my brother were given $20 each and a list of people to buy things for and we had great fun at the hardware store trying to collaborate our efforts to get a frog on a lillypad that we were certain that Grandma would love. (And she must have because she still had it last year!)
Every year during the holidays we had several family banquets. There was the long trip of seven miles to Great-Grandmother’s house who had fresh baked pies laid out on the counters and preserves that she had made from her own acre of garden that she had tended herself. We would spend hours there as kids playing hide and seek and marvelling at the hours that had gone into every cross-stitched picture and the unique parrots that hung like they were alive on perches in the living room. That tradition ended when I was in my early teens and she passed away at the ripe old age of 97 years young.
My Dad’s parents lived across the road from us while I was growing up and they always had a huge family meal or one was coordinated in our home once a new house was built when I was fourteen. There were easily 25 people and sometimes up to 40 for Christmas dinner. Food was plentiful and would have been very traditional to the North American household. As a girl I had been commissioned into baking and helping out with the preparations from the time I was about seven years old. Shortbread, gingerbread, poppycock, candy and home baked cream puffs and donuts were a few of things that were offered. Saskatoon, rhubarb, mincemeat, cherry, and apple pies and tarts had been piled up in abundance. Fresh baking was a gift to be shared, treasured and given away and today I still believe that is a good taste to leave behind for friends, associates and business partners.
I marvel now when I hear someone complain of the commercialism of Christmas. I know that it is true for the masses but it has never been true for me. Christmas is still a time for friends and family and laughter. It is time to bake and enjoy eating and playing board games. It is a time for a little extra volunteerism or putting together a huge basket of goodies to take to a family that does not have enough. It is a time to stand behind someone in line and when you see that they are scrambling for change, just step forward and pay it, and then smile and say “Merry Christmas!”
Christmas is about giving and living to the fullest. It was based on a guy who gave everything for all of us and it is still supposed to be an expression of that. I don’t mind it at all to reach down inside myself and give everything. To start singing a carol in a line up and get the whole crowd laughing while they were just standing there bored anyway is a lot of fun. I enjoy leaving a $50 tip for the waitress with a copy of Max Lacado’s Christmas novel and then stand back and watch her face through the window without her realizing that I witnessed that magical moment. We can create the excitement of Christmas or live in the deadness of winter. It is our choice.
I heard two men in a line-up at the grocery store talking about how the stocks were not “doing it for them anymore.” They said they had no joy in their mistresses, their fancy cars or anything in their lives. Christmas music played in the background and a long line had formed. Some were happy, others were grumbling. I was intrigued. My heart was full of giving and compassion. I grabbed some carnations in a bouquet by the till and paid my bill. I caught up to them in the parking lot and pinned a flower to each of their lapels, and encouraged them to put a little Christmas in their Season. One of them actually shed a tear.
I encourage you today to reach down inside yourself and remember something good, something wholesome, and something wonderful about the season. If you have no happy memories then by all means go out and create one that is new. Who can you be a blessing to?
Put a little Christmas in your season!