Dangerous pastime, n’est pas?
As the days become shorter and the weather gets a bit of a chill, I always begin to think about the holiday season. Things kick off with Thanksgiving, then it seems like all eyes are honed in on Christmas. Ah, Christmas!
I was thinking about Christmases past when I was growing up. I couldn’t wait until the day we went out and bought a Christmas tree and brought it home. The pine scent lit up the living room and made it seem so magical. My father would then go and fetch several large boxes that contained all of our treasured Christmas ornaments.
My father always placed the lights on the tree. I remember those large old ones we used to have, but were replaced by the small (more practical!) sets in the ’70’s. As soon as Dad had finished with the lights, we all gathered round the tree and Mom would hand out delicate glass orbs of various shapes and sizes. Mom had a friend who moved to California and she gave Mom many of her blown glass ornaments, including birds with fiber tails.
When I was a small child, we got to (carefully!) hang little wax figures on the tree. I remember snowmen, santas, angels, and toy soldiers…I think there were others, but I seem to have forgotten. Our beautiful glass balls were just that. They weren’t the strange balls of today that often discolor over a year of storage.
After hanging all the fancy doo-dads on the tree, it was then time to spend quite a bit of time meticulously and tediously placing the lead icicles on the branches. Mom and Dad insisted these needed to be hung one at a time and carefully so the other ornaments could still be seen.
Funny now….in looking back, I realize this was a real tradition in my family, although I had never thought of it as such. And in thinking about this, I feel like a failure as my own children have no real tradition like this. I always rationalized that tradition becomes dangerous when it morphs into “rote”. Yes, I tend to be much more spontaneous and always looking for new things.
I shan’t muddle through a list of my shortcomings as that remains between me and God, but as I walked through Lowe’s home center early this morning, a sharp realization hit me like a ton of bricks! Much of my lifetime, I have heard people gripe about how commercialized Christmas has become.
Rows and rows of brightly colored “seasonal” decor called out to me and I must admit, many of the items made me smile. But then, I wondered….what about the poor people manufacturing these items in China. What do these people think?
It is nearly impossible to find items made here in the US of A anymore. I did find a display of “collectible” ornaments that proudly displayed an American flag on the front, along with the words Made in the USA. I guess I should have bought one!
For years, I have told Mark I would like to build a tiny cabin where we could retreat for Christmas week without telephones, computers, and television. It would be so much fun to just hang out as a family and enjoy the real reason for the season! Why, just think how much more fun it would be to become snowbound for a few days. No pressures from the world outside.
I guess deep inside I am just trying to resolve issues that cause discomfort in my life. I long for simplicity. Perhaps having an Amish friend reinforces such a desire. I will never fault others for elaborate displays and their own traditions as that isn’t my business and I really do enjoy seeing many of the setups people do for Christmas every year. (Of course, as a child, another tradition was driving around town and observing all the beautiful Christmas displays!)
I have decided that I am going to work on some handmade presents this year, specifically designed for the recipient. Although they might be small, the thought and care going into them will hopefully be appreciated.
Perhaps my kids do know of some little traditions we have established that I was too busy to notice. In the meantime, I will just keep thinking. And dreaming. Of a White Christmas, of course!