Did you have a good Christmas?
I often wonder, is there much in life that every year receives such a big build up as Christmas does, only to be done in a single day?
It is over in one day in these modern times. When I was younger, we used to stretch out Christmas. We’d go to church on Christmas Eve for the midnight Eucharist. Then of course, the big day, with gifts and our enormous family breakfast—because our means were spare, it was the only morning all year we sat down to a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, home fried potatoes, and, oh joy, orange juice and grape juice!
We’d have the traditional turkey dinner of course, and my mother’s Christmas Pudding—a steamed carrot pudding that has no added fat, and that I still make each year, to this day.
Then the next day—Boxing Day—would begin the “Christmas Visits” – they usually took place over the next two or three days, actually—visiting friends and relatives. For any who had small children, my parents would always bring along some gift or treat for the kids.
Christmas, back then, was very nearly a season.
Do we blame the retailers in our world, or ourselves? Here in Canada, we begin to hear radio and television ads for “Boxing Day” sales, before we even have Christmas! It’s hard not to let the loud and constant cacophony from the world of consumerism influence us.
I often lament the passage of what, in retrospect, appear to have been simpler times. But I wonder if they really were simpler? Or does my subconscious soften the memories so that they just seem that way?
I do look forward to the “review of the year” that seems to be a popular feature of many news shows. I like to take a moment and remember the milestones, the passages, and the achievements of the year. Sometimes, I learn of things that escaped me when they happened originally. And sometimes, I think, was that only this past year?
Times change. People change. Nothing stays in a comfortable place, not for long, at any rate. I think it’s a facet of the human condition that the older we get, the more we want things to slow down and stay somewhat the same. We want to seek comfort in the familiar. It’s why we have our favorite mugs, our favorite chairs, and even our favorite restaurants!
It is, at the core of it, why we have traditions in the first place.
I really believe this need is universal. It’s one of the reasons older folk are always characterized as beginning a lot of sentences with, “Back in my day...” There’s a sense for some of us, as we age, that how things were back in “our day” was the “right” way, the “best” way, and of course, for those of us whose inner curmudgeon isn’t inner any more, the “only” way.
Sometimes I hear younger people admonishing the older to “keep up with the times”. To those younger folk I would say, you can hope, but most often, it’s just not going to happen.
I spent time with my older brother on Sunday. He hosts a “Boxing Day Brunch”, and for the last few years he’s invited us to attend. He and his wife of more than 45 years do the cooking together, making the usual fare. Always delicious, of course!
I found it interesting to sit and listen to him afterwards as he was telling my beloved that the fliers come in the newspaper for the local electronics store, and he marvels at all the pieces of technology for sale that he has no idea, whatsoever, how to operate. He said he didn’t even know what a lot of them were—and really didn’t care to learn.
I can recall this same brother, not so many years ago, describing to me his latest blow-your-eardrums sound system with woofers and tweeters and other things I didn’t even understand then.
Now I’m e-published, on line all the time, hip deep in IMs and e-mails, and he doesn’t even use the computer he has. Times do change.
I wish you all a blessed New Year. May 2011 be very good for you all!