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.