What has happened to Christmas?
Is it just that I'm getting old and along with it nostalgic, longing for times past? It seems some of my children don't place the same value on family and the holidays that I have throughout my life. Admittedly I miss those times.
In my family growing up Christmas was a big deal. My mother, shortly after Thanksgiving, began looking for a Christmas tree. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins gathered for festive meals, singing, and the opening of gifts. Though at the time they may not have been memorable, in retrospect there is a rich fabric of holiday memories that have been woven.
One Christmas when Santa Claus was still on my radar, following the annual Christmas pageant at the church, Santa Claus appeared and his voice was definitely familiar. It was my father. Very confusing. It was that same Christmas that my grandparents stayed overnight on Christmas Eve. My grandfather and I were relegated to the back porch. Between anticipating Santa's arrival and my grandfather's snoring I didn't sleep a wink.
A few years later, the family sitting together, I asked my father what he had gotten my mother for Christmas. He handed me the sales slip from the alligator handbag and shoes he had purchased. Without thinking I read off the items written on the sales slip. As you might expect my father was not pleased with me.
On another Christmas friends were flooded out of their house and joined us for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It began a tradition. For many years following they joined our family for the holiday.
When I had a family, Christmas and established traditions continued. Extended family gathered for big meals and gift exchanges. When Santa was a reality, Christmas Eve could be a late night assembling toys, wagons and bicycles. Christmas mornings we watched the kids enjoying their new found treasures.
Christmas was an established tradition. Nothing was going to get in the way.
But, things have changed and I imagine not just for our family. This last Christmas our son and family, living in Southern California, left on Christmas Eve for two weeks in Peru climbing Machu Picchu. They had a great time and I'm sure it was an invaluable experience for the three kids. I applaud them. But, did it have to displace Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?
And, to make matters worse, I fear it may be the beginning of a new holiday tradition.