Christmas Present

There’s something about Christmas that can put me in a very nostalgic mood.  It might be the family Christmas traditions, or how I decorate my house with so many old ornaments and nick-knacks from my childhood.  It could even be that most of my favorite Christmas songs are the old ones and that I listen to them a lot as I’m driving around town.  All I know is that this is the time of year when my memories of past Christmases are strongest, and I sometimes feel a real sense of loss.  It’s as if an important and precious part of the holiday is gone, and I know I’ll never get it back again.

Thankfully, I don’t feel that way all of the time.  In between my bouts of Christmas nostalgia, I have moments when I’m downright thankful for the changes that the passing years have wrought.

Last Sunday afternoon, I headed to the mall to get in a little Christmas shopping.  When I got there, I saw a line of families waiting to have their children’s photos taken with Santa that stretched almost from one end of the mall to the other.  And as far as I could tell, it wasn’t moving.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to breeze right by all those people, duck into the little boutique jewelry store, buy a gift for my daughter-in-law and waltz back out again.  At that moment in time, it felt great to know that my kids are too old to want to see Santa.

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And speaking of Santa Claus, I like being at the stage where his only role in Christmas at my house is as (an occasionally tacky) decoration.  I remember the Christmas when my son was four all too well.  I had finished my shopping early that year, or so I thought until the afternoon of December 23, when my son casually mentioned that what he wanted most from Santa this year was a toy Bat-mobile.  This was news to me, so I asked why he hadn’t mentioned this before.  Apparently, he saw a commercial for it just that morning. (Yet another reason children shouldn’t be allowed to watch TV.)  I told him it was awfully late to be changing his mind, and he said he understood.  But he was still “really, really, hoping that Santa brings me a Bat-mobile.”  So guess who got to go fight the crowds for the last remaining Bat-mobile at Target?

As long as I’m being honest, and a bit Grinch-like, I’ll admit that I’m also glad I no longer have to be responsible for games and craft projects my kids’ holiday class parties.  Or spend two hours sitting on a cold metal folding chair during the school’s winter concert.  The concerts were only about an hour long, but if you didn’t come an hour early, you didn’t even get the privilege of an uncomfortable chair.  Instead, you ended up standing in a crowd around the perimeter of the gym, trying to peek over the shoulder of the tall guy in front of you, hoping to catch a glimpse of your kid on stage.  Good times, indeed.

I think nostalgia is remembering only the good times, and of course there were plenty of those.  I’ll always miss the excitement of the Christmas mornings of my own childhood, and the fun we had at Christmas when my own children were young.  But these days I’m getting better at recognizing that those long-ago Christmases were far from perfect, and that the present Christmas has a lot going for it, too.

40 thoughts on “Christmas Present

  1. Nostalgia is an interesting thing. You’re right about the memories sometimes being selective. But some of those were pretty special selective memories..:)
    I try not to think of all those we’ve lost in years past but those thoughts do creep in sometimes.
    I still dress up as Santa on Christmas Eve , as I have for the past 40 years and hope the memories and photos will bring some smiles in the years to come..:) I often wonder how my children and grandchildren will remember the holidays.
    Very interesting post, Ann..:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think there is something about Christmas that makes us think of the past, and mourn what we have lost. So many people we have loved and who were important to us, and that can be hard. But it helps me to remember that it wasn’t always perfect, and that the Christmases I’m having now also have their good points. And in some ways, being less hectic allows me to more fully appreciate the season.
      That being said, it’s fun to remember all the good times! I love that you still dress up as Santa! My husband did that a few times for his nieces and nephews, and we still laugh about it. You know the memories you are giving your family will live on long after you are gone, and what better way to be remembered?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas does it to me every time. I always think of my paternal grandmother, and the Christmas Eves spent at her little ranch house filled with aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins. My grandfather always dressed as Santa Claus and would come through the front door with a bag of gifts. I have the Santa suit, but my hubby refuses to wear it. I miss those days so much. They felt like magic. Your post reminded me of this, Ann. What would we do without our memories? I pray that I never get Alzheimer’s like my grandmother did.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know! Our memories are ours and ours alone….I couldn’t bear the thought of losing them. There is something so special about the Christmases of our childhoods, even with all their imperfections. All we can do is hope our kids feel the same way about theirs, and know we did our best to make sure that happened. I’m so sorry for your grandmother…I can’t imagine anything worse than losing my memory. I like to think that perhaps it’s the present they lose touch with, and maybe the good parts of the past stay with them, even if they can’t express it. But sadly, we don’t really know.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What is it about this time of year that brings on the nostalgia? The good – and the “not so good” memories? A very wise and thought-provoking post. I get it. I get it all indeed. And then just wait……. until you become a grandparent! and it all changes. LOL! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I know that grandchildren change everything, and in a good way! And I am looking forward to that stage of life, if I’m lucky enough to experience it! For now, I just hold on to the good memories, mostly. But I also want to remember some the harder times, because it makes me appreciate the relative peace I have now. (No more class parties!!!! ) I guess part of Christmas is just taking time to remember all that has come before, and all the people who have touched our lives. And we wouldn’t be human if that didn’t sometimes make us just a little bit sad. Thanks, Jodi!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A Bat-mobile? Oh, I hope Santa brings me one of those. Of course, in my case, I might be a bit late with my request. 🙂

    I enjoyed the post, Ann. The Bat-mobile anecdote took me back to the times I had to rush through crowds to get coveted items for my kids too. I guess it’s something that many parents experience when their kids are a certain age. I miss some aspects of those days, but you’re right to say they were far from perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My mom tells the story of how my sister and I as young children would come down the stairs on Christmas morning, ready to dive into presents, only to be told to go back to bed, that it was to early. I, of course, do not think I would ever do that (ahem, clearing throat here). My children tell me how THEY used to come down the stairs, every Christmas, in silence, to shake and rattle the presents, that my husband and I slept through it each year. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I love watching the faces of those telling the tale. THAT’S Christmas magic. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ann, you write so well.
    I do enjoy reading your posts.
    Especially this one.
    My daughter is now married, and our
    first grandchild is on the way.
    I recall the Christmases when she
    was a child. Great fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lovely reflections, Ann, and with resonant echoes of my own feelings, too. It seems that Christmas remains a very special time as we progress through life, yet takes on an altogether different hue? We see ever more clearly the corrosive elements of consumerism within it, and yet there remains an obvious sensing that goodwill is indeed the intent behind or beneath the superficialities of attempting to ‘do the right thing’, in everyone else’s eyes. There’s something beautiful in that movement towards expressing goodwill, much as we may see the surface corruptions at play, and perhaps it becomes a little easier to rest just within that same goodwill as we advance into and through grandparenthood, and our past obligations to perform ritually fade away?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think you are right. When we were young, we just accepted that consumerism was, if not the whole point of Christmas, then at least the highlight. My favorite part of Christmas was Christmas morning, when I got presents. And my children were the same when they were young. Now, as much as the commercialism annoys me, I find myself appreciating the real spirit of Christmas so much more. Christmas Eve is my new favorite day, with it’s air of quiet expectation. And the Christmas stories, the generosity, the idea of peace on earth….those remind me of what the world is supposed to be. Or at least as I wish it to be. Thanks, Hariod! Your comments always make me think!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Over the past 7 or 8 years I’ve realized how liberating it is to get older and firmly rooted in middle age. Managing small children during the Holidays is a task that I’m glad are over until maybe the first grandchild and even then I won’t be doing the heaving lifting (only a log of spoiling)… I do admit however that life is some ways was simpler with a 2, 6 and 8 year old who did what I said, were always under my roof and protection at night, and still felt the magic of Christmas both spiritually and commercially. Uh-oh – I’m getting melancholy…
    Alas, as Bowie sang,

    “Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
    Time may change me
    But I can’t trace time
    I said that time may change me
    But I can’t trace time”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bowie was a wise man, wasn’t he? I think you are right about the liberation of our phase of life, as we are freer to be who we really are and don’t have to concentrate quite so much on raising children. That being said, we can’t protect and guide them as we would like either, but I guess that’s just the trade off we have to accept. As George said, nostalgia is a complicated thing! Thanks for the comment, and I hope you have wonderful Holiday season!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful post Ann. I couldn’t help smiling and nodding all the way through because I could totally relate to everything. Past Christmases, the last minute dash to Target to buy something, the queues, the school concerts but also the sense of anticipation which we’ve somehow lost along the way. But there are also many blessings now, as you said, and it’s up to us to appreciate them. May we create many more new and wonderful Christmas memories. 🎄xo

    Liked by 1 person

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