I don't exactly love the holidays. I used to love them. I want to love them. I think I could learn to love them again. In actual practice, though, I am thwarted in my quest to love the holidays almost every year.
When I was a child, we had a lovely tradition. We had many nice traditions, but this was one of my favorites. We children would get up on Christmas mornings, open our stockings, and then we would set the table with our Christmas china and prepare breakfast for our parents. The sun rose late at that latitude, so we would have a candlelight breakfast. Mom and Dad got to sleep a little later, which I'm sure was the origin of the tradition, my big sister did the majority of the cooking, I set the table and we all had a lovely quiet breakfast together.
We received nice presents, but I don't recall Christmas being about the presents. We looked forward to the whole experience, not just the gifts. We went to midnight mass. We spent time together, both the immediate family and extended relatives, too. We laughed a lot. We listened to carols and feasted and enjoyed being together on that special day.
It was that way everywhere, even in school. People looked forward to Christmas as a holiday, instead of an opportunity for some competetive shopping. I can remember hearing adults humming carols in the grocery store and then hearing other adults join in. No, they didn't stand around and sing together (magically accompanied by an orchestra) in the store, but there was a definite sense of joyous expectation at the coming of Christmas.
Christmas doesn't feel that way anymore. We still love getting together with our loved ones. But Christmas as a HOLIDAY isn't about that anymore. Turn on any radio, tv or web page and it seems like someone is demanding that I buy something for someone.
Our National notion of the Christmas spirit isn't about the birth of a Savior anymore. In our culture, Christmas has become about shopping. And conspicuous, ostentatious displays of decorating. I honestly do not remember my Dad hanging any lights on the outside of our house. I expect he did, but maybe not. We lived way out in the woods and no one would have seen a decorated house anyway. Mom decorated the inside and that was always fun. That was decorating for US, not the neighbors. Who do you decorate your house for?
I think I want to recapture the Christmas of my childhood. I want to see the light of childlike joy and anticipation in my sweet hub's face. I've never seen that. I want to be excited to see the visiting relatives. I want laughter and love and joyful singing to fill my house.
I want Christmas to go back to being about miracles, love, redemption, joy, reverance and wonder. But I want it to be that way everywhere, not just at home with my family and in church. I want to hear children singing Christmas carols, instead of asking for a Wii and a big screen TV of their own and an Ipad.
Wouldn't it be cool if the gigantic superstores of today had window displays and decorations and Christmas music playing, but the expectation was to find simple, meaningful gifts instead of bringing them into the black for the year? I mean REALLY. Does anyone need another boxed gift set with flavored coffee and unusable mugs shaped like penguins? Did anyone ever need a singing bass to hang on the wall?
Giving is a joy. I'm not against giving; I love giving! I love finding that perfect gift for someone I care about. It doesn't HAVE to come from a store, because giving and shopping are NOT interchangeable ideas.