Skip forward a year or two, my family was in Germany, and I feared getting coal in my stocking like my brother teased. I'd been told that Santa wouldn't leave me any toys if I was awake when he got there, and was worried because I was sick and prone to waking up in the middle of the night. Santa came anyway. Again we enjoyed a white Christmas, and I couldn't imagine anyone having the holidays without snow.
My family moved to a South Carolina farm, my dad left, and my customs got turned on their ear. Very rarely did we have snow, and we no longer bought a tree from a lot or unpacked a silver tinsel creation from a box. Instead, the three of us went out into the woods to chop down an cedar tree. In hindsight, I do wonder at the wisdom of my mother entrusting us with an ax. One year my sister and I, aged about fourteen and eleven, respectively, dragged home this wonderful beauty of nature, only to find it was approximately thirty feet tall, and Mom had to cut the top out to use in the house. We always put the tree up on my sister's birthday, December 18.
We attended church, and always particpated in the pageant as angels or shepherds. From the age of seven I sang solos, or duets with my sister. To this day I cannot sing Silent Night without thinking of her and wondering if she's still harmonizing with me, just out of my rang of hearing. She passed thirteen years ago.
I grew up and had kids of my own, and developed traditions for them, like decorating the day after Thanksgiving and opening one present on Christmas Eve, and saving the rest for morning, to open along with Santa's gifts. Through their eyes I saw the wonders of the season anew, and enjoyed the giving of gifts more so than the getting. I baked a lot in those days, and every year made treats to take to family and friends.
My kids grew up and left the nest, and my traditions have changed again. My extended family gets together before Christmas to share a meal, and meet at my daughter's on Christmas morning for breakfast and to watch my grandkids open their gifts. Aftewards, I'll take lesson from my Jewish friends and go to a Chinese restaurant for lunch, and go see a movie. Sadly, Navy son won't be coming home this year.
Christmas Eve is spent in my home, with the tree lit and carols playing. I may watch a version of "A Christmas Carol." Oh, and there will be wine.
Though my holiday season is no longer filled with parties and excitement, I still love the season just as much, and still think the most magical thing in the world is the see the holiday through a child's eyes. Oh, and nothing brings a smile to my face better than really, really tacky Christmas lights, you know, the kind where planes are circling, trying to land, and the neighbors' lose power? White lights and tasteful bows have their place, but bring on the mis-matched chase lights and dancing candy canes....just not at my house.
I found this Lindsey Stirling video visually stunning. Enjoy! This one's for you, my dearest sister.
Merry Christmas, my friends, and I wish you the happiest of New Years.