Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Changing Christmas Celebrations

        I have more or less celebrated 70 Christmas's! The 71st is coming right up.

        When I say Christmas celebration I mean the activities which take place on the 25th.

        Let's back way up to before my first Christmas. My mother lived in her parents home until she married my Dad. She was used to her mother's English influenced Christmas day activities. My Dad had wandered during the depression and probably spent the day in a variety of ways. Christmas day seemed to have not been a big issue with Dad except for the Christmas goose. I'm quite sure that my mother went back the 800km to her mother's for the first few Christmas's. Fortunately my Mom's cousin lived on the neighboring farm and a tradition grew where they alternated hosting the Christmas day activities.

       To be honest I don't remember Christmas until I would have been about five. Santa Claus was a big issue and opening presents Christmas morning was an exciting event. We received gifts from our maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles. Many times we received used items but we were still very excited about the gifts we received. I remember getting a pocket watch. Grandpa had attached some kind of leather strap and the watch was kept in  my pocket. The watch didn't work but I could turn the hands. I was very proud of this watch.

     When we spent the day with cousin's we had the feast at noon. This fitted farmers who travelled with horses and sleigh. We had a tremendous meal. Turkey, ham, potatoes, gravy , vegetables, stuffing, mince pie, and Christmas pudding. The afternoon was spent playing games or if the weather was nice we played outside in the snow. For the evening meal we had cold cuts from the left over of the noon meal. We continued fun stuff during the evening. About midnight another hearty lunch was had. There were lots of Christmas baking items to sample. It was really a day of great eats.

    My paternal grandparents lived in the local village. Their house did not have electricity , water or sewage. We would take a gift into them a week or two before Christmas. Mom had usually knitted a pair of mitts or socks for Grandpa. As soon as we gave the gift to Grandpa he would open it. He was pleased to receive something and thanked us. As little kids we were horrified that he didn't wait to open his gift until Christmas.

     Once I finished high school and left home I came back home for Christmas, but tended to spend much of the day with some of my buddies. I then went to the Arctic and this was the first Christmas I spent away from home. Fortunately I was with a number of other single people and we made a very nice Christmas dinner for ourselves. The Christmas morning I spent going around and visiting couples who had children.

     Then I married. The first couple of Christmas's we went to my parents . The menu was still the same but without the cousins. Now there were my brother's and there little children.

     When my children were born we lived 700km away from my parents. We went there for Christmas twice,. My Mother died and after that we spent Christmas on our own. My wife's English influence took over so the menu changed a bit but was still top notch.

     My children were the excited little beaners who loved early morning gift opening. My children became teenagers and spent most of the day with friends . The day consisted of many visits with the kids and their friends.

     Both my kids left home. My son spent a couple of Christmas 's with us and then made his Christmas on his own. My daughter spent most Christmas's with us and we also at her place. Now my daughter is 2000km away. She's invited us for Christmas but we decided not to go. We will celebrate alone but it's not our first Christmas by ourselves. In the Arctic we spent Christmas alone and thoroughly enjoyed the season and day.

    I think if my grandchildren came with gifts today I might be tempted to open them on the spot. I guess things have come full circle.

    So my 71 Christmas's have been all treasured. They have changed gradually because of my change in life. They have also changed because we as a society have changed.

    I also realize that there are many ways that families celebrate the day. The celebration is influenced by our family and the origin of that family.

     What are your traditions of celebration? I hope all your Christmas days have been happy.


  1. Quite coincidentally Red, I'll have something soon on this exact subject. Perhaps more than one. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Thanks for dropping by. I wish I had divided this into at least three posts as there was much more that could have been covered and it would have been more meaningful. So there's a hot tip for you! Do it in sections. Have a great day!

  3. Yes, bummer you couldn't come for a visit, but then again, it's snowing like crazy, and turning to freezing rain....so maybe just as well!?
    I distinctly remember a couple of Christmases as a kid...well, at least defining moments of them. Can't quite recall how old I was in any one of them, but certainly 10 or under.
    I remember one year, likely the earliest of these, that I got a play fridge, stove/oven and cradle for my dolls. Dad had made these himself out of plywood, then painted them. When I see the cheap plastic Playskool crap they sell for kids these days, I think how lucky I was! And how the hell did he do all that work and I never noticed?! I played with those for years, and eventually they became storage containers in my closet. I have a feeling they may still be there yet...
    I also remember a morning when I woke to find a brand new 10-speed bike in my bedroom. Again, how the hell did you get that thing in without waking me up?! Just what I'd wanted, right down to the foaming handle bar covers. Rode that thing all over for a number of years.
    Another great Christmas was the one when I got the Barbie camper. I only had 1 Barbie ever, and she dated GI Joe, probably because he had a horse (and I was always horse-crazy) and, well, he was the only other doll around. At any rate, there was the HUGE motorhome in all its 1970s glory, waiting for some minor assembly, and a lot of placing of stickers. Dad patiently helped with placing them all, which, now that I think of it, was probably either very funnyt o him, or a real bore. Either way, he was wonderful about the whole thing. Go figure that Mum has held onto all our childhood toys over the years, only finally letting them go in the last few. And joy to me for having to drag that Barbie camper and several other bags of goodies all the way to the left coast to my nieces...quite the thing to have cramming up the back seat of your rental car, with your boyfriend wondering why the fuss?
    The nieces immediately saw the potential in the camper, and quickly introduced a pet hamster to a fun new play area!
    These days, Christmas is a lot quieter. I love to decorate the house and be all cozy and homey (especially with a new, shared house with my fiance this year), and cook the dinner etc. Otherwise, we're low key, less fussed, and that's just fine. I'll still insist on going around - dog included - on Christmas eve to look at everyone's light displays, before going home for snacks and bedtime.
    Some things never change.

  4. Gee, I had a whole nice comment ready here, and the 'net kicked me off! Sigh...
    I distinctly recall a few Christmases when I was a kid, likely all of them before I was 10 years old.
    I remember one year I got a play stove/oven, fridge, and cradle. All had been made by Dad out of plywood, which he then painted with the "knobs" and burners etc. How he put all that together without making noise etc. I'll never know! I played with them for years, and eventually they became storage units in my closet. I am guessing they are still there.
    I also recall another morning when I awoke to find a brand new 10 speed bike in my room! Again, how the hell that got there without waking me is pretty impressive. It was just what I'd wanted, complete with foam covered handle bars. Rode it around for years!
    And then there was the Barbie camper. I had only 1 Barbie (who dated GI Joe, him being the only bachelor doll around, plus he had a horse, which suited my tastes just fine, thank you). The camper was a HUGE motorhome of yellow plastic. Glory! Dad so patiently helped with the "some assembly required" which at least called for quite a bit of sticker applications. Looking back on this, he must've either been very amused, or very bored, but either way, he was helpful and gracious. I'm pretty sure I wasn't.
    A couple of years ago that same ENORMOUS camper landed up - with my mother's insistence after 20+ years of saving this precious object - in the back seat of our rental car on the way to Vancouver. Mum wanted my nieces to have this relic of pop culture (circa 1981? a regular museum relic) and so I dutifully dragged it across the Rockies, must to the bewilderment of my boyfriend. The nieces quickly took to the camper as the perfect new play space for their pet hamster, and quickly installed the little critter inside.
    These days, Christmases are a lot quieter and more casual. I'm thousands of miles from family in Canada, but have a new home to make cozy and festive here, and new friends and family to spend time with. I'll still insist on taking a tour on Christmas eve to check out everyone's light displays - small dog still included for the ride! Some things never change...

  5. Thanks for the great effort in commenting about your Christmas as a kid. I enjoyed making the fridge etc. I did it in the summer in the backyard. You should have made this a post of your own. I'm sure more people would see it.