Friday, December 24, 2010

Missing Christmases of Days Past


This Christmas will be the first Christmas in the last 15 years that my mother won't be here on Christmas morning.  She decided to come for her visit after the holidays this year so we're planning on having her stay with us sometime in February instead.  Thinking about how it's been a tradition for her to be there to see the kids open their gifts, I started thinking about Christmases from when I was a kid and how much I miss them and how I wish my kids could have experienced Christmases like I had.

We don't have a large family anymore and frankly, a few of the members have been disowned for various GOOD reasons.  Now our Christmases are usually my husband and I, the kids and my mom with a visit from my husband's sister at some point during the holiday.  Christmas here happens on Christmas day and we don't travel or go to anyone else's home as it's usually our house that everyone comes to.  We make a big dinner and have the baked goods and such.  We decorate and have fun with the kids but it always feels like something is missing. 

When I was growing up Christmas was a 3 day event.  Christmas Eve we'd go to my grandmother's - on my mom's side.  I had (2 have now passed on) 5 sets of aunts and uncles and slew of cousins.  There was always a ton of food and treats and everyone was laughing and having a good time.  Christmas music would be playing quietly in the background and board games got dragged out of closets.  Each of my aunts and uncles would have a gift for all of the cousins and each other, of course.  We'd open our gifts and say our thanks.  We'd spend the whole evening and go home to fall into bed.

Christmas morning would arrive and my brother and I would head downstairs (me in a full out run) to see what "Santa" had brought for us this year.  There always seemed to be a sea of gifts under the tree.  My mom had a way of making Christmas look GRAND.  We'd play with our stuff and watch our parents open their gifts and spend the day at home.

The day after Christmas we would head over to my other grandmother's house for another big dinner and treats and even more gifts.  We'd spend hours there too.

I loved Christmas!  It wasn't about the presents either.  Don't get me wrong, I did love the presents but when I remember Christmases from days past I couldn't tell you many gifts that I received but I can surely tell you funny stories or the fun I had.  I can't really say I have loved Christmas at all since being an adult, to tell you the truth.

My grandmother on my mom's side passed away and soon after we lost one of my aunts too.  All of the cousins grew up and had families of their own and moved here and there.  We'd still get together as a small group with the rest of the aunts and my uncle for a few years but then relationships with an aunt and another uncle fell apart.  Soon we were down to a party of 6 or 7 during the holidays.

My kids really don't know the difference.  They have the food, the treats, the gifts every year.  I just wish they could have experienced BIG Christmases like I had as a kid.  Truthfully, I wish I could experience them again myself.  I wish the kids had a bunch of cousins to get together with and a bunch of aunts and uncles to embarrass them and kiss their cheeks.

It doesn't matter really.  They seem content with it just being the few of us and I need only wait until they grow up and start families of their own to have big Christmases again myself. 

It could have been way worse.  They could have grown up like my husband did and never experienced Christmas at all, EVER.  My husband was raised as a Jehovah's Witness.  No Christmas, No Easter, No Birthdays, no holidays or celebrations of any kind.  I can't imagine not experiencing the "magic" of Christmas or never having a birthday party.  I can't even wrap my mind around it.  I think everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs so please don't take that as a negative comment about Jehovah's Witnesses.  That is their beliefs and I respect that.  I simply just can't imagine not being able to experience holidays.

If you have stuck it with me through this long walk down memory lane and are still reading this, I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas no matter how you celebrate this time of year and I hope that no matter how big or small your family gatherings are that you are surrounded by love and friendship and that your new year brings you success, health and happiness.

Merry Christmas from me and mine to you and yours.



sassypackrat said...

My family is small with no Aunts, Uncles or cousins so growing up I never knew any different. My ex husband has 8 siblings so I got to experience a large family Christmas a few times. I found it a little crazy but fun. When we split my children were too young to remember those large gatherings and we were no longer invited. I would have liked them to have that family connection.

My mother always made Christmas an event at her house (my kids were her only grandchildren for many years) and after the kids opened presents at home we dressed and headed off to Nana's for more presents and a huge dinner.

Now there are much younger cousins in the picture and a lot more noise and people and fun. I do look back on those quiet childhood Christmases with a bit of fondness though.

I didn't get my cards out this year but want to thank you much for the one you sent me! It made me feel like we are real friends and not just social network acquaintances. That means a lot to me.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Remember the moment is forever in your heart...Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year! I am sending you snowflake kisses for your gentle cheek. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Diane MacNaughtan * Dianie Mac * said...

Merry Christmas!