Reclaiming Christmas

I am bound and determined to enjoy Christmas this year.  I simply must.  The snow started today in my neck of the woods – enough measurable accumulation to cover the ground and then some. That’s Lake Ontario lake effect for you, early season snow.  We’re due, last winter it was unseasonably warm. I had tulips coming up in January.

Anyway, why am I seemingly desperate to have a good Christmas?

I have always loved Christmas.  The lights, the cookie-making, the sappy holiday movies, the music, both secular and religious alike.  I love getting together with family and friends.  I love going to Mass on Christmas Eve and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

Sure, I was one of those kids who sat down with the Sears toy catalog and circled the stuff I wanted.  Usually “My Little Pony” paraphernalia.  I remember one year, soon after I’d discovered Gone With The Wind, both book and movie, I begged and begged my parents to get me the “Barbie as Scarlett O’Hara” dolls, which were on sale for a much lower price in the BX catalog (that’s “base exchange” for you non-military brats).  I did eventually acquire all five dolls in the series, but not until much later on.

But I was never particularly caught up in the whole “gift getting” part of Christmas.  I mean, sure, I was a kid, and I loved opening presents, and there had better be the same number of boxes under the tree for me as for my sister.  Sometimes, one of us got socks to make it even.  I never knew it at the time, but my parents didn’t have a ton of extra money to pay for toys and games and so on. We always had what we needed, and usually what we wanted, and if we were told no, that was the end of it – no big deal, certainly no whining.  And even as a kid, I always liked giving presents.  My elementary school used to hold this “Secret Santa” shop just before the holidays, when we got to take our pocket change and buy ridiculously cheap gifts that usually broke a week after Christmas.  I always put a lot of thought into what I would get: the book light for my mom, which never worked, because she loved to read; the “#1 Dad” pencil holder shaped like a number 1; the mini broom and dustpan for my grandmother, because she could win an Olympic gold medal in cleaning if that was an Olympic event.  I even bought stuff for my annoying big sister, because at the end of the day, she’s my sister.

Most of my life, Christmas was awesome, and it was all about sharing love and memories and being happy.

Adulthood, however, has not always been as fun as those childhood Christmases would lead us to believe.

It’s unfortunate, but my family has had its share of unfortunate events over the past eight to ten years or so, especially in the last two, which sometimes makes it hard to remember what Christmas is about and how to be happy and thankful for the joys and blessings we do have.  It’s hard to keep hope and faith when all the things you wish for, all the things you’ve counted on, sort of start to disappear.

I don’t know why I’m so determined, but I feel like it’s time to reclaim Christmas, to hold onto all the good things and celebrate what we have.  And I have 30 days to convince myself that it’s okay to love Christmas again.

I’ll let you know how it turns out on December 26th.

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