The clock ticks down … and Christmas, that Holy Holiday, hovers near. Most folks find themselves hurriedly doing their last minute shopping… planning holiday meals and decorating.
And I find myself pondering why we tend to create such stress on ourselves instead of taking the time to pause, relax and let the true meaning of Christmas fill our hearts and minds. I’m as guilty as the next fellow when it comes to the hassle of Christmas … the rush … the worry whether someone will like a certain gift and so on.
White doing some shopping the other day, pushing and shoving my way through throngs of people, I noticed the faces of many of the people I encountered … stressed out, no smiles, not really appearing to be having much fun at all.
There once were simpler, gentler times of Christmas … folks speak of an old-fashioned Christmas and many of our elderly people can tell about them.
My own mother remembered her childhood Christmases. She told me, “My aunt Lizzie, who was my step-grandmother, would bake two large cakes for Christmas … one would be coconut and the other would be a rich yellow buttercake with thick icing, almost like fudge. How I remember those cakes! We didn’t have a cake very often and it was such a treat.”
My mother’s mother died when she was hardly more than a baby and my mother was raised by grandparents. They were kind and loving people, but they did not have many worldly goods or much money.
“I remember that we didn’t have a Christmas tree,” said mama. “What we did was hang our Christmas stocking on the fireboard and wait for Santa Claus. We believed completely in Santa and next morning, we’d rush to see what Santa had left in our stocking.”
“What would you get?” I asked my mother.
Her eyes took on a far away gaze and wistfully, softly, she replied, “Oh, there’s be an apple and an orange and a little bit of stick candy. I was so proud to get those things, meager as they may sound, cause we didn’t get them except at Christmas time.”
“No toys?” I asked.
“Well, aunt Lizzie sometimes would make me a little handmade doll. I don’t remember any toys other than the doll,” mama said.
By comparison, today’s shopping sprees overwhelm us. It’s hard for today’s world to comprehend only homemade toys, stockings filled with an apple and an orange and a few pieces of stick candy. And yet those Christmases past, despite sparseness, were an exciting wonderful time. Perhaps we have come to expect too much from Christmas. The fact is, every day is Christmas these days, and in so doing, we have lost the joy and sweetness which Christmas brought to those long ago.
I could tell by my mother’s expression as she spoke of her childhood memories that she did not feel that she was deprived… rather I sensed a longing to go back to that cherished time of her childhood. And maybe that is why I find myself longing too. To go back to those old-fashioned Christmases.
but since that cannot be, maybe if I look into my heart, I can find that sweet Christmas spirit from those days … to smile at those I do not know; to be kind and giving to those in need; forgiving of those who hurt our feelings and most of all, find love in our hearts for all mankind, just as God did, on that cold, starry night in Bethlehem long, long ago. “To give the gift of love.” And as Christmas draws near, I am determined to fill me soul with the joys of an old-fashioned Christmas, just like mama remembered.
My wish for you, dear readers, is a joyful Christmas season, with each of us pausing to remember why we celebrate Christmas.
The birth of Jesus.