I have tried to figure out why I love Christmas time. It has become overly commercial. I am dumbfounded by Black Friday. I can’t believe people will become uncivilized, stand in huge lines or camp out in front of a store, to purchase a toy or television, because they are told it’s a good deal. Or that they will act like it’s the end of the world if they don’t get the newest super-duper-thing-a-ma-bob before Christmas Day.
When I was a child and lived with my father and stepmom, I was in chorus at school. My stepmom made me a teddy bear costume one year, for our Christmas play, Babes in Toyland. Everyone was excited to be on stage and sing to our equally excited parents. A surprise performance by a boy named Mark was the highlight of our play. He sang “O Holy Night” so beautifully, everyone was in awe. No one knew he could sing. What a fun time it was. My parents chatted to the other parents, and the teachers, after the play. My siblings enjoyed the cookies and punch provided. I was walking on clouds on the way home, which was just across the street from school.
During the weeks before Christmas Vacation at school, our teachers had us make a gift or ornament of some kind, in festive red and green, for our parents. We had parties and gift exchanges. I remember the price limit was 50 cents and we usually got a book of Lifesavers or a coloring book and small box of crayons. It was fun to bring a wrapped present to put under the class tree.
I had so much fun during Christmas vacation. I made decorations out of colored construction paper. I filled a wall in the livingroom with a scene of Santa and his reindeer flying over sleepy houses and evergreen trees.
Sometimes my aunt or a neighbor brought us a plate of homemade cookies and goodies. It was sheer heaven to sit with one of those sweet treats. I told myself when I was a grown-up, I would bake lots of cookies, (I do.)
I didn’t have an allowance, but one year my Pop gave me a dollar, and I went to Rexall Drug Store and bought each of my siblings something for a dime. I got Jeff a plastic car, Scott a ball and a package of colored gumballs for Christy. Kelli got a toy baby bottle. We didn’t have Laura, yet. I got my cousins, Julie and Wendy, each an adjustable sparkly ring. I was so happy I could give them a wrapped present.
We recieved plenty of gifts from Santa and Grandma and sometimes aunts and uncles. It was a lot of fun to see all of the pretty packages under the tree, which was decorated by my siblings and me, except for the lights. A grown-up did those.
I will always remember the Easy Bake Oven that Santa gave me. I had seen it on TV, but it not on my list. I made some yummy treats (to me as a kid) with that oven. I was just as happy with other gifts, and none of them were on my list. I was content to be with my family and that everyone was in a festive mood.
Part of Christmas Vacation for Christy and me, was to visit our mom for a weekend. She had the prettiest white Christmas tree, decorated with nylon angels in pastel colors and tiny colored lights. The pink and blue lights enchanted me when I saw them through the haze of angel hair. The tree was sparkly and dreamy to me.
Mom had our Little Grandma visit when Christy and I were there, or we went to visit Grandma where she was a housekeeper. The people she worked for were very nice and they had two girls the same ages as Christy and me. Grandma was the best grown-up of all to see. She was always in a good mood and happy to see us. Everything Grandma cooked was the best thing I ate. I think her secret ingredient was love. She always hugged us and made us feel special.
Snow at Christmas always seems magical. The air is quieted by the gentle presence of beautiful big snowflakes that cover everything with a dazzling white blanket. Everything seems clean and new. The winter air smells fresh and bright. Even night is like a shadowbox of expectation and delight.
The good feelings, sitting on a cozy warm couch with my siblings. We could share a bowl of popcorn and watch “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and be so happy to see it, together. And that was magic, to be together, spending time happily.