Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much Christmas has changed since I was a kid. I wonder if we’re trying to make up for the loss of family those traditions with less important things like gift giving over-indulgence. I hear people talk about buying gifts or spending too much money and running themselves ragged because they are “supposed to”. Where is that written?
Obviously a lot has changed over the last 40 or so years; some for the good and some things not so much. I’m not going to be one of those people who, now in middle age, talks about how good things used to be “back in the day”. Life changes and everything wasn’t necessarily better back then just because we remember it positively. We can’t go back anyway.
Still, some of my best Christmas memories revolve around helping my mom bake cookies and make fudge for the holidays. We didn’t make anything fancy, but it was all good. And that aroma said Christmas to me like nothing else. I recall standing at our old gas stove stirring the fudge for what seemed like hours (but was closer to 12 minutes) so it would set up just right.
I remember going through the JC Penny Christmas catalog and making up a wish list to give to my parents. The funny thing is, I know I got gifts and they were probably off that list, but I don’t remember Christmases for what I opened on Christmas morning. I remember hanging around the house, playing with whatever I got and spending time with my grandma and my aunt when they did their Christmas day pilgrimage to all the family houses.
I remember putting Christmas music on the old console turntable and listening to Johny Mathis sing “O Holy Night”. When I got a little older, I remember turning off the lights in the living room and staring at the big colored light bulbs on the tree while the music played.
Does that make me old? Probably so…in my daughters’ eyes at least. Still I want to make sure they have some of those same memories when they grow up so they can bore their own children when the time comes. That means it’s time to teach them to bake cookies from scratch and stir fudge for “hours”…so it thickens up just right. None of it will be healthy or calorie conscious, but all of it will be good to eat. And hopefully it will stick in their memories not just on their hands. Not because we are “supposed to” or any other such foolishness. But because we want to do it and it’s nice thing to do as a family.