Christmas cheer

December 23, 2018 § 5 Comments

We don’t celebrate Christmas any more, much. Our little stone pine that we used as a tree died earlier this year, and as a holiday Christmas has been on the way out in my family for years.

It used to be a big thing when I was a kid, though, mostly because it was the one time of year when you got “things.” Throughout the year you hardly ever got anything except maybe a new pair of shoes and another pair of jeans.

Nowadays of course you get things all year ’round, whatever, whenever. Schools can’t/don’t decorate for Christmas, nor should they, any more than they should decorate for Hinduism, Islam, or any other religion.

I don’t miss the consumerism, all focused on a single day, and I sure don’t miss the pressure to buy things for people, or the expense. In my family, Christmas was always associated with raging alcoholism, conflict, overeating, and disappointment. It never measured up to the hype, ever.

But there were still some amazing things about Christmas that most kids today will never experience, like singing secular and religious Christmas carols in the school choir, having a Christmas program with Santa and Jesus, exchanging Christmas cards in class, and a whole bunch of other stuff that was exciting and fun, even if you were a little bound-for-hell, heathen atheist like I was.

The whole month before Christmas was a crazy time of year; every corner lot hawking trees, the supermarket jammed up with tinsel and baubles, the radio blasting carols and Christmas music all day long, mom baking Christmas cookies, dad getting drunk on the family homemade eggnog recipe three weeks early, and the gradual accumulation of presents under the tree.

There was a tacit belief in Santa Claus even when you knew he didn’t exist, and the food coming out of the kitchen was different in December. You had ordered Christmas cards back in the summer, or you hadn’t and you bought them at the mall, which was turned inside out with Christmas everything. Everywhere you were reminded how many days til Christmas, as if after December 25 time would stop.

My grandparents, who lived in Daingerfield, would drive to Houston with a trunk full of presents. It was about the only time they ever went anywhere, and we would wait for them in a frenzy all day long. They wouldn’t get halfway up the driveway before we would fling ourselves at the car and beg them to open the trunk.

Without cell phones or computers, I think the word was “anticipation.”

My grandpa and dad would immediately start drinking, which is to say they’d continue what had started hours before, and my granny and mom would excitedly talk about things that then I didn’t understand, but that now I do. And they would cook all those marvelous things that you didn’t have any other time of the year, which isn’t quite true because we were already sick of turkey from Thanksgiving.

I’m happier now, though still bound for hell, apparently. But those days were good days in their own way, may they rest in peace.



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