Like most people I feel nostalgic at Christmas. Memories and aromas quickly bring back the sights and smells of Christmases past. Christmas ornaments that I have saved from long ago and those made by our children all have a story. Some of those worn ornaments have become a precious symbol. They remind me of a time when we knew how to make do with very little. I think back and remember little things like stacks of Christmas trees piles in front of the grocery stores along 2nd Avenue. I remember the crowds of shoppers up and down 34th Street, and the beautiful windows along 5th Avenue. The spirit of Christmas was everywhere, in the schools, in the stores, in the banks and of course the churches. Our Christmas hymns were traditional and you knew the real meaning of the season.
Christmas comes early to our house. I start hauling out the decorations on Friday, the very next day after Thanksgiving. The first thing we set up is the Christmas scene in the foyer. Next up is the Victorian Christmas tree in the living room followed by one of three mangers and then the collection of Santa Clauses, gifts from Charlie over the years. This is done early in the morning because it is a traditional movie day with the grand kids and then back to the house to pull out the remains of the Thanksgiving dinner. By day’s end, the Christmas spirit for me has set in. A few days later our son, Chuck, will stop over and help us set up the big tree in the family room (yes we switched to a non-live tree about 5 years ago when we just couldn’t get 5 weeks out of a live tree down south). We have a trim the tree party on the last Sunday in November when the family comes over to help decorate and have dinner with us. Boxes are hauled up from the basement and out of the boxes come the carefully wrapped ornaments; each one telling it’s own story. We have ornaments that belonged to my precious grandmother and once hung on her tree while some have hung on the trees I had over the years growing up. I usually find a very small tree for the kitchen just to enjoy the smell of pine in the room where the family spends the majority of the time congregating eating, talking and laughing. This time of year is a precious gift.
So many things that I now do remind me of a relative, a friend or a tradition. Even the little things I do bring back a memory or two, and I get to hold Christmases past in my hand like a photo book.
No matter what the circumstances, we have always made Christmas the grandest of occasions in our house. No matter what we gave up in our early years, the squeals of the children on Christmas morning have more than made up for it. To this day our Christmases are a day of great joy, filled with traditions that I hope will live on in the homes of our children after we no longer are able.
Wishing all of you, our friends and neighbors, an absolutely beautiful Christmas.