Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of Christmas Past

This is going to be different than my usual posts.

Last Year

She thought it weird, but they weren't at home. Plus she wasn't going anyway. As she sat in the hotel dining room, she saw a family of a dad, a mom, a toddler daughter, and a son as they prepared to go to church. She was taken aback. So people really do put colored lip gloss on their little girls! Why? She could certainly understand clear lip gloss, because her grandmother got that for her for Christmas when she was eight or nine. But this three or four year old had on berry-stained lip gloss. Feh, whatevs. She was more concerned about the people who had failed to put on clothes and thought nothing of traipsing around the hotel lobby and dining room in their pajamas. Is this something new? If so, again, why?

Hours later, she found herself in a very familiar place. She hugged her god-aunts and god-uncles, and gave a big hug to her god-grandfather (the very reason she made the trek), and gave a big hug to her god-grandmother, because the spread before her was simply amazing. She told her god-aunt that her daughter was her spittin' image, and watched the young teen roll her eyes. Finally, somebody who I can tease. Lots of people remind her that she looks like her dad almost every time they see here and especially when they just met her.

"You know you look just like your dad, don'tcha!"

"Yeah. I get that a lot."

Two little children ran in with their toys, and the teens and preteens talked about the electronics they got. She quickly made herself a plate, and happily ate. The group of middle-aged adults sat around on Facebook (she shook her head, because on that day she had not joined teh Facebook), and then the game began. The game was Dirty Santa. It's a gift exchange, but you can take a previous gift that's been chosen. She stole some wine and wine glasses. She doesn't drink, but she did it to annoy her god aunt. She wanted the big gift, but knew she couldn't tote it on the airplane since she was walking on crutches.

After the game was over, the family sang "The 12 Days Of Christmas" as a game. She has it on video. And they followed that up with singing The Temptations' "Silent Night." She had fun and really enjoyed seeing everyone, since it had been close to nine years since she last saw them. She went over to her uncle's house where they had an even bigger feast. She met relatives she never met, both new and old. Her uncle from Baltimore called and they talked (he was shocked she made the trip, and not because of her injury) and wished each other a Merry Christmas. All in all, Christmas 2010 was good, filled with the fun and joy.


She didn't take any time off, but Christmas fell on a Monday, so she got a three day weekend. Her parents had gone to church, and when they came home, they also brought her grandmother. She'd fussed with the cats because the older one hated the younger one, and the younger one loved to antagonize the older one. As dinner made its way to the table, she popped open one can of cat food. She was moving too slow, so the older cat jumped on the counter. She was immediately shooed off and her bowl of cat food placed on the floor for her to eat. The second cat, having not paid any attention to the routine of the cats getting wet food on Sundays and holidays, watched the other cat until a plate of cat food was placed before her. She sniffed it, and then ate it.

Her grandmother was amused by all this. It was time for the humans to eat, and ate they did. After dinner, gifts were exchanged. She looked at her mother because once again she'd signed the tag a gift from Santa. Dude, I am in my thirties!

Her grandmother was okay with her gift, although she wished she hadn't been given so much. But hello, Granny, it's not my fault you were born close to Christmas! Another Christmas where the family came together filled with love.


She'd arrived home about ten days before Christmas. Everyone was happy to see her. She was, however, into her boyfriend, who lived in New Jersey. She did her Christmas shopping, and called him every couple of days. Christmas Day, the family came together and ate. After dinner, gifts were exchanged and her cousins came and brought their children.

Ahh, the brood had grown. The youngest (and really, they all were young) tore into their gifts from their grandaunt and granduncle. Everyone talked and then the cousins and their kids, the youngest, only a few months old, grabbed their belongings and put on their coats and gloves and hats and left. She rode with her mother to take her grandmother home. Once back, she called her boyfriend. Her Christmas was filled with love and joy, of course with kids screaming because they liked the gifts they received from their grandaunt and granduncle, there was no peace.


It was their time to shine! They had learned and then practiced the songs since they were in the first grade. They memorized the scripture and recited with ease. Most of them had been doing it since first grade. This year, however, was different. This year, they were the actors.

All the students came together one last time after Christmas break had begun.And this year, the oldest students were Mary, Joseph, the angel Gabriel, the shepherds, the three wise man, and the angels aka the stage hands. She was one of the four angels. For some of them, for seven years (in her case six years) as they learned the songs and scriptures, they watched as each exiting year played the parts. She figured she would be an angel, and she couldn't wait. If she had known how that Christmas pageant would affect her, she would have begged her parents to tape it.

She was really thrilled because the church's Christmas program was on Sunday, and she enjoyed it, and then the school's pageant fell on Christmas Eve. That only happened a handful of times in her previous six years, but those were the ones she enjoyed the most for the next day, gifts would be under the tree. The times had changed. She no longer had toys, for she was a teenager, but she had clothes and money. What more could a teenager ask for. Her aunt's gift was the icing on the cake: a leather skirt! She had enough money to get a new pair of gym shoes.

Her grandmother had made a cake, and her mom had done the dinner, and her cousin would soon be there with the sides, plus ribs! Could this Christmas get any better? The cousins arrive, and the youngest was about one, and he was into everything. His brother was no slouch and their cousin could be just as annoying. She played with them and watched them tear into their gifts from their grandaunt and granduncle. She played the games with kids, and carried her youngest cousin around, and soon it was time for them to leave. Everyone said goodbye. Her bestest Christmas came to an end. It was filled with tradition, love, joy and peace.


Christmas break started on December 23rd. What did that mean? The Christmas Pageant was on Christmas Eve! She watched as the angels came in on "O Holy Night," she hoped one day she would be one of the angels. As it was, she was part of the choir, so her class was center stage for the first three songs. But sadly (well, not sadly) she did not have to say the scriptures. But she did anyway. Why? Because she knew them, and they said them every year, so why not?

For unto us a child is born
Unto us a son is given
And the government shall be upon his shoulders
And His name shall be called
The Mighty God
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace

He was wounded for our transgressions
He was bruised for our iniquities
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him
And with His stripes, we are healed

After the pageant was over, she was so happy because tomorrow was Christmas! She got a gift bag full of fruit and popcorn balls from the church, and she wished everyone a Merry Christmas and went on her way. Probably ten hours later, she got up, and to the surprise of no one, proceeded to tear into her gifts! There was the Barbie dolls. There was a Commodore VIC-20 computer (seriously what was that?!) and her prize, a tape recorder! She couldn't wait to show her best friend (who, by the way, got the exact same gifts minus the VIC-20). Any clothes she got, came from Santa. She scoffed at that. Really, Mama? Her cousins stopped by with her parents' first grand, their grand niece. She ate and watched the grownups. She played with the baby, and she played with her toys. Everyone left and she was happy. Another good Christmas was had by all, filled with tradition, camaraderie, family, the giving of gifts, joy and peace.

1975 or 1976

She was a nosy one. She saw the bags her mother had, but when she got to the bedroom, the gifts were gone. She had an idea. She would wait. One day as her father slept and her mother was away, she went into the attic on the right. No bags. She went to the attic on the left. Bags! She opened one bag, are her eyes deceiving her? It was Baby That-A-Way! There was a box, too. It had a picture of the three-story Barbie Townhouse on it. There was a Barbie. 

Every day after school or pre-school, she would stare at the toys. She couldn't wait until Christmas! But one thing didn't make sense, she told Santa about these gifts so why did her mother get them? Doesn't Santa care for me? Sorry. I couldn't resist. She did not have that struggle. She wasn't upset learning of Santa's non-existence because she was getting everything she wanted. She had dinner, she called her grandmother and god grandparents, and her cousins stopped by and a feast was had. It was a Good Christmas.

This is my story. I stopped believing in Santa at four or five. My childhood Christmases did not suck as people would believe. My cousins' and godkids' Christmases did not suck because Santa wasn't included. They have (and had) parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins (or a godparent) who helped them have good Christmases. And importantly, the lot of them focused on the reason for the season: Jesus. 

It saddens me when people pounce all over another because they won't have their children believe a lie. I think some of them just need a firsthand account from someone who grew up without Santa. And at least mine was positive. There were countless others in these here United States who Santa missed. And when they did receive something, it was because of a parent, relative, friend, or stranger who gave because they wanted to make the magic happen.

Quiet as it's kept, Santa does not create the magic. The love from family and friends and even strangers do. The love is even more sweeter when Christ's love is reflected. I certainly hope each of you were able to feel that in your childhood, but if you haven't, it;s never too late. Whether it's a few of you or a bunch, this is the day to rejoice and celebrate, not only prophecies fulfilled long ago, but because Christ came down, born into sin, and died on a cross, we are able to be reconciled with God. Our spirit of giving should not be just this season. It should reflect every day, both to family friends, but also to neighbors and enemies.

Even if you or your children believe in Santa (and for some odd reason, my mother does). Even if you say "Happy Holidays," you should still reflect Christ and His ultimate gift. 
God Bless, Stay Encouraged, and Merry Christmas!

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