Earlier this month, in the Pursuit of Frugal, I confessed that I am not a huge fan of Christmas. I know that Christmas is a religious holiday for many and considered special day for that reason alone. I don’t want to offend anyone but my experience of Christmas has been secular and so I see it from that viewpoint. I find the season very stressful and less than joyful! When I mention to people that it is not my favorite time of year they look at me like I have two heads. How can anyone not love Christmas? It is such a magical time of year.
My First Christmas
Maybe it all started with my first Christmas. My Mom wanted it to be extra special. My parents went out on Christmas Eve to buy the biggest, fluffiest, most spectacular Christmas tree they could find. They found the perfect tree, brought it home and hid it at the side the house. They wanted to wait until I went to bed to set up the tree and arrange the mountain of gifts. Later that evening, my Dad went out to fetch the tree and it was GONE! Someone had taken it and left their half-dead, scraggly, sorry excuse for a Christmas tree. My Mom was devastated.
Now, I don’t remember that first Christmas but the family legend lives on. Who steals a Christmas tree? Maybe this guy…
The Best Christmas Ever
For me Christmas is stressful, gluttonous and wasteful. You just need to check our curbside the day after Christmas for confirmation.
Our gift exchanges have turned into a “gift card exchange”. What’s the point? Can’t we just have a gift free Christmas instead?
My Grandmother used to tell me about her favorite Christmas. It happened before I was born and it was during a year when everyone had been on strike or out of work for many months. Everyone was broke! She told me that Christmas dinner consisted of a ham, scalloped potatoes and baked beans and in her opinion the most delicious Christmas dinner ever. Gifts were few and far between. A scarf or a package of cigarettes (it was the olden days) or a kiss. They played cards and had some great laughs. “The best Christmas ever!” she used to tell me. What happened to those days?
The Christmases that have been most memorable for are the one’s where something (or everything) has gone wrong. The turkey that falls out of the roasting pan and skids across the kitchen floor, Grandma dropping her false teeth into the toilet, the burnt carrots, the tippy Christmas tree and tipsy relatives, the gifts Santa left in the trunk of the car. Those moments and the laughter are the ones I will remember. I don’t remember many of the gifts I have received, the bows or the wrapping paper. I don’t remember the Christmas lights or the perfect garland. I don’t remember the stolen Christmas tree, but I wish I did. I do remember the laughs, the card games and the odd food fight though.
My Own Special Holiday
To cope with all the holiday craziness, I have established my very own holiday. I celebrate Winter Solstice (December 21 this year) – the longest night of the year. Every day after December 21st, we gain a few more minutes of daylight. It marks the beginning of the end of the darkness.
I know that if I can make it to that day, I know I can survive the winter. It is a new beginning and I like to light the (gas) fireplace, pretend it is a wood burning one, have a cup of tea and contemplate the year gone by and the new one that is beginning.
It is peaceful and hopeful and rejuvenating.
I am not sure how, but the kids have caught on to my holiday and will remind me that it is coming up. This year I think they might sit with me and talk and tell me what the longest night of the year means to them.
Wishing everyone a peaceful, sane and simple holiday season.
P.S. The Christmas light show competition in our area is intense. Some people hire companies to wire up their homes – to the tune of $700+ a year. Not kidding.