Seen any reindeer bikers lately? On my walk today (taking my own advice to get out and walk to aid my writing process), I saw this happy-go-lucky reindeer pushing the pedals. Yes, folks, there is no end, it seems, to creating unusual Christmas yard ornaments. It could be worse, I imagine. Given I live in Florida, there could’ve been a snowman dressed in a bikini. But besides making fun of expensive frivolity, I’m writing to wish you all a happy holiday season. And also, a coming year, that, in any way you need it to be, is better than the last. For those of us worried about the state of the U.S., that’s a big wish. Please now forgive me, this post was not intended to be political. So much for my good intentions.
What’s your reason for the season?
When I was little, Christmas was a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I was raised as a Roman Catholic. Our family tended to all the Catholic rituals from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. I don’t imagine they’ve changed much (except for some modifications after the Second Vatican Council) but I have. At this stage of life, I’m not a religious person, but I do find solace in the contemplative aspect of spirituality that infused my Catholic upbringing. Anyway, in my family back then, leading up to Christmas was a segment of time called Advent, where the altar at St. Francis de Sales Catholic church was trimmed in purple. Purple was everywhere, it seemed, and even tinged each picture on the Advent calendar. I just saw ads for those calendars online. They’ve got all sorts of designs these days, even one touted like this: “Open a window each day during Advent to find a piece of premium milk chocolate!” Boy, times have changed! Wish we’d had those in my day. Is chocolate a good reason for the season? I know that Hoyt, my husband, for one, would say YES!
Parties and cookies and trees, oh my!
Christmas also meant decorating a real live evergreen tree with ornaments that had been in our family for years. The aluminum foil star covered in plastic was a relic from bygone years. Every year, Dad stood on a ladder and affixed it, despite its decrepitude, atop the tree. Dad had trudged up and down the attic stairs carrying boxes of decorations and we hung them, along with lights of primary colors that flickered on and off, depending on how loosely they were screwed in their sockets. Mom made cookie-cutter style cookies—bells, trees, stars, circles—and stuffed dark brown dates with nuts, then rolled them in sugar. I ate many of each delicacy without guilt. Oh, those were the days … I know this is starting to sound like Leave It To Beaver, but believe me, that was not us! For one thing, Mom worked outside the home. For another, I was often a brat.
When I wasn’t being a brat, for gifts, sometimes my sister and I stuck fresh cloves all over oranges, wrapped them in netting, then tied them with ribbons. They were our version of spice-scented closet fresheners. Did your family make those, too? Or were we just weirdos? After a month or two, the oranges would shrivel up and the spice scent ebbed away. Oh well. We’d recycle the ribbons. These are the memories that come to the surface today. As for most people, there are MANY more down in the Christmas storage bin. But for now, this is what they mean to me: at the heart of all this ornamental ritual, fruit repurposing, and sugar ingestion, no doubt, was a feeling of connection. A feeling of reverence for something bigger than ourselves; an awe towards our concept of what God was (it has changed for me over the years, but that’s another blog), and an acknowledgement of how we loved each other. That feeling extended to an active thankfulness for friends we’d visit for Christmas parties, and the kindness-filled comradery we experienced with churchgoers at the annual Christmas bazaar. A sense of caring made the season bright.
Good reason for the season
I say let’s keep that active love towards others as a good reason for the season, no matter our religious traditions or lack thereof. At the risk of sounding cliché, isn’t love the greatest gift of all? To me, that’s what puts the spice in life. That’s what this season and any season contrived by humankind is for: showing love whenever and however possible.
Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones
So with love in our hearts for you, dear subscribers, from our house to yours, Hoyt and I send you best wishes for a happy holiday season and a meaningful new year filled with love. No matter what.
Your writer on the wing,