Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Decisions

Christmas is celebrated by traditions and cultures. Originally designated and arbitrarily set as the birthday of the Christ, it has evolved into a day of good will and festivities, not necessarily related to its religious significance.

As a child it was the biggest celebration of the year. Mother was really into Christmas. Her birthday was Christmas Eve, which usually meant all her gifts served a 2-fold purpose: birthday and Christmas. Dad was less into Christmas rituals, but he worked 7a.m. to 7p.m., 6 days/week. He left most of Christmas up to Mother.

Shopping for gifts meant mainly mail order, because Mother did not drive. Wondrous, mysterious packages arrived at various intervals, starting before Thanksgiving. Occasionally Dad carried her to the business district, shopping in the evenings. Early in my life Texas had a "blue" law- no sales on Sunday.

In our early years Santa Claus brought us our gifts, with only a few gift-wrapped under the tree. Mother keep lists of what she spent on each of us, trying to be sure her three children had the same value and number of gifts. That must have been a juggling act of the budget, in and of itself.

As my parents entered old age I noticed much less decorations and celebrations. Of course their married children were into their own celebrations; usually I was residing somewhere distantly, like Dallas TX, Baltimore MD, Morocco, Denton TX. I was single until age 33, but I loved to roam, much more than any other family member.

Now that my husband and I are entering our older decades, I see why their celebrations became smaller and less taxing on energy. Moving to Arkansas in our forties, we continued our own celebratory traditions, which involved extensive decorating, gifts, and inviting friends for feasts of gluttony. My husband decorated the neighborhood with lighted displays.

For several years my best friend and I organized a free Christmas Dinner, cooked and served at City Hall. The purpose was for persons living alone to have some fellowship on Christmas Day. Our town has numerous retirees, many of which live alone. The first year we served over 100 persons. Each year it grew until we were serving over 400, at which time it became too large for us and our volunteers. The local VFW took over the program.

During this time we continued our personal traditions, sometimes postponed to New Year's Eve or Day.

Nearly 30 years have passed and our celebrations have become burdens, not only to us but most of our circle of friends. And somehow, I find our previous years have sugar coated the original meaning of Christmas into glitzy, weary, shopping forays and eating orgies. It is time to get off the insane Christmas Tradition Train and redesign our Christmas traditions to more nearly conform to peace and GOOD WILL to all.

Prodded by the visible misery of the economic downturn in our area, my group of friends are foregoing the usually gifts, many of which went unused, and the food orgies. None of us are in the Fortune 500, but are blessed so much more than many around us who are without jobs, losing homes, sleeping in cars, and depressed.

Instead our designated Christmas funds are being channeled into various needs in our community. My best friend adopted a family from the Christmas Wish program sponsored by her newspaper job. Another friend is donating to the local food pantry, whose shelves are often empty these days, and also Heifer International.

We personally are contributing to Christmas for children in Panama, two families with children through our church life group, and a Christmas church project in Tulsa OK, which is focused on broken families with drug and alcoholic abuse problems. I am buying small Christmas token gifts for our TeleCare clients.

We are investigating a local single mother with children recommended by our Police chief. There may be other projects. After all it is only Dec. 2.

I will probably put up a small Christmas decoration so I can put Luckie's chipmunk toy out Christmas Eve.

We mutually agreed to each buy one gift we want and call it Christmas from each other to each other. I ordered the customized laptop I earned for losing 25 lbs. and since it is pricey, it is Christmas for me, too. [It will probably be Christmas before it gets here, as the FedEx tracking # shows it missed the boat, hmm-air transit date, in China!]

Somehow, this change is comfortable and exciting, for us as opposed to the frenzied activities of previous years, when we collapsed from overeating in a heap before the Christmas tree, to open gifts between, burps and gas releases.

P.S. I, the NitWit, am fixated and fascinated with the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!


lakeviewer said...

Christmas has been always a big chore for me when the kids were all home. We did too many things, spent too much money, worked too hard at trying to create magic. Now, like you, we are settled down to small routines, one of which is to decide how much to spend on gift cards so everyone can buy what they want.

Arkansas Patti said...

Enjoyed the post very much. You hit a lot of my nails right on the head. I am going home to Florida this year for Christmas and while I am excited about seeing everyone, the mob scene and parties will be taxing.
I do the adopting of a family also. My own family are doing very well and need nothing. There are so many out there that this year will be a real grind for them due to the economy.
Now of course my new babies will be spoiled by Aunt Patti.

NitWit1 said...

OK Happy! I know you will have a great time and I guess Mighty is accompanying you.

And you will return home with lots of new stories to tell.

Spoil them babies; you are entitled!

NitWit1 said...

OK Happy! I know you will have a great time and I guess Mighty is accompanying you.

And you will return home with lots of new stories to tell.

Spoil them babies; you are entitled!

Small City Scenes said...

Well 12 interesting comments for the 12 days. Very clever and interesting. the progression of time It is.
I think I have become a scrooge but with my 15 yr old Grand-daughter living with me things are bound to change. She is a sweet non gimmie gimmie kid and all she wants to do is decorate and have lots of lights. will do, kiddo!! MB

Anonymous said...

Nice post and one I enjoyed reading. As we got older and our children left home, they started to celebrate on their own at their homes. But they still show up here on Christmas day. I don't suppose it would be as big of a deal if there was no dinner served but Patty seems to enjoy doing that.

Anyway, we no longer have as big as before or as many decorations as when the kids were all at home. And after the holidays I am the first one asking when all the stuff is going to be taken back down.

Lorna said...

I still love christmas---but in a different way from when I was a kid when it was very faith-centred. Now it's more family-centred, and very satisfying in that respect. I would love to still feel the awe and veneration from my childhood. I continue to seek and struggle with faith, so it can be bittersweet, but even bittersweet is part sweet.

Sandi McBride said...

Now this is the best one know I put up the tree and had to take to my bed for an took me six hours to put it up...and I still haven't found Pye's squirrel..I have a suspicion that Arianna may have taken it home with her...his squirrel dances up and down and plays All I want for, hope your Christmas if filled with peace and hope for good 2010...and Happy Birthday to the Babe, Jesus Christ

Pat - Arkansas said...

I'm with you, Carol! Love the 12 days of Christmas, m'self! When I'm late getting my Christmas cards in the mail, I remind myself that the 12 days of Christmas BEGINS on Christmas Day and runs through January 5.

Nice post -- and some nice things you and your friends are doing.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a creative post!!! I, too, love that Christmas song, and really enjoyed the way you used it to beautifully weave together your memories and current thoughts about Christmas...and I think your ideas PERFECT!! ~Janine XO

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

What a great post. I always enjoy stopping by here.