We have four gifts under our tree right now. All of them were purchased by our daughter for Grandpa, Grandma, Mom (me) and Dad. That’s it, four gifts. And the dog ate mine.
Okay, perhaps that is just a bit of an exaggeration. The dog opened mine. My daughter and her sitter arrived home first, and they were able to rewrap the present.
It’s been that kind of Christmas season. Usually I know what our Silly Tomten (the Swedish version of elf-on-the-shelf) is up to, but tonight he got up to stuff in spite of my neglect. I think Sillly Tomten may have an assistant, and I think his assistant may be looking over my shoulder, giggling, right now as I write. However her daddy is being suspiciously silent as well. Hmmm.
We have our lights up, our tree decorated; the Christmas cards have been sent, and although the bad Christmas music blares through loud speakers in just about every retail establishment I visit, something of the Spirit of Christmas is missing.
Perhaps I have been living in the Midwest long enough to expect snow and cold for Christmas, and it just doesn’t seem like Christmas without it. Perhaps though, this brown Christmas with its warm, wet weather is reminding me of much simpler times—my childhood in Georgia when Christmases were brown and warm and wet—a time when I had few cares pulling at me and little more to do than focus on Christmas.
Mom and I worked in the kitchen making plates of fudge, attempts at divinity, yummy cakes and cookies. Money was tight so we spent more time wrapping the packages—creating fancy ribbons and bows and pleats in the paper—than we did shopping for the gifts. We made handmade ornaments—bells out of the tops of Downey bottles.
People sent lots of Christmas cards, each with personal, handwritten messages. They would inquire about our family and tell us about theirs. It was fun to check the mail every day to see where the cards were from and add them to the collection over the season. Invariably cards from old friends and distant relatives would lead to reminiscence and storytelling.
I would curl up in my Daddy’s lap in the “gorilla chair” and watch the black and white 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, my favorite version (his favorite was the Alastair Sim version from 1951).
There was time to sit in front of the Christmas tree in the evening, alone with my thoughts and think about Christmas—what I hoped for, what it meant. My grandmother used to send beautiful ornaments for the tree; there was a gold foil King in a glass bulb and three gloriously embroidered cloth angles, which adorn our tree yet today. When I was little Christmas was the main event, and everything else happened around it.
It seems though now that I am fitting Christmas in between other things—work, home, family, church. Some of those other things are created by the Christmas season itself that keep me from Christmas.
So, the dog ate my Christmas present. And she got my attention.
It’s high time I sat by the Christmas tree, quietly, thinking about Christmas—all my hopes and prayers for it and what it means. Besides, it looks like I’m going to have to guard my present.
© 2015 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.