Christmas has always been a special time for me. I loved the season as a child and have continued to cherish the traditions as an adult. December provides a welcome break in the year, a time to reflect, to rethink, to take a break from daily routines. I started a tradition almost fifty years ago of writing a poem or story every Christmas and sending it as my card to special people in my life. A few years ago, I compiled these into a book Winter Tales.
This year, I thought I would post at various random times throughout the season my reflections on what Christmas means to me, with poems or stories taken from that compilation, as well as new stories and poems, and perhaps a song or two. This includes the Solstice, as that has become more important to me over the years. It does not include holidays from other traditions, as those are not mine to write about.
I hope these posts help brighten your dark December days and nights.
As they say at the Revels, WELCOME YULE!
But the best was yet to come. That evening your mother pulled the ornaments out from a dusty closet and everyone joined in to decorate the tree. After carefully placing the last piece of tinsel on a soft branch, you stood back and marveled at the excellent job you had done. And that night marked the true beginning of the Christmas season.
Now that school was out, you could help bake the cookies, sampling each new batch to make sure it was as good as the last. Between two batches, you went into the living room to peek at the tree for the fiftieth time, and lo and behold, there were packages under it! So now you crawled under the tree, trying to read the tags and figure out what was in the packages, growing curiouser and curiouser.
The next day, you went Christmas shopping with your mother or father, and now it was your turn to sneak packages under the tree. That evening, your father drove the family around the city to look at all the brightly decorated houses; you always had to find the old favorites, and sometimes everyone would be surprised by a new and innovative decoration on someone’s lawn or rooftop. And there was always the visit to see Santa Claus to tell him what you wanted for Christmas. Perhaps you would write a letter too, to make sure he didn’t forget; with so many kids in the world, you couldn’t expect him to remember everything you had told him.
Finally the magic night—Christmas Eve—would arrive, and your bubbling excitement became mixed with reverence and awe. Perhaps you opened presents this evening or perhaps on Christmas morning; whichever way, you never forgot to hang up your stocking and put out milk and cookies for Santa. Your mother tucked you in your snug bed and you were sure you would never be able to get to sleep, but before you knew it, Christmas morning had arrived. You raced to see your stocking and found it leaning heavily where you had hung it loosely last night. You took it off its hook and sat down immediately to pull out each item with curiosity and excitement. And then on the floor, you saw a large present: a wagon perhaps, or a large stuffed dog, or ice skates. You just sat there in wonder until your parents came in and then you hugged and kissed them and they were happy for you.
Christmas was a magic time then. Can we retrieve our childlike spirits again on Christmas and relive the magic once more? Can we believe again in Santa Claus, just for one night? Who knows, maybe he’ll turn out to be real after all!
Note: The year I wrote this and sent it as my Christmas card, I found a stocking at my door on Christmas morning. A stocking filled with goodies. So Santa did turn out to be real, in the form of my best friend who shared my like of playing such “tricks” on people. Thanks, Janet, wherever you are.
As I read this, I realized how quaint it may appear and possible sexist. Mothers baking cookies, fathers driving the family around, even Santa may be out of date? Sitting on his knee? And writing a letter by hand? It is for others to start new traditions and write about them. I sincerely hope the magic, excitement and joy and family time are never lost.