And so this is Christmas and what have you done?

Christmas was magical when I was a child. Presents, lights, company in the house – all were events greatly anticipated. We were giddy with excitement when we started counting the days. (Mom only let us start the count after Thanksgiving.)

Kris Kringle (which was really my cousin Evelyn in costume) dropped by with a sack of gifts on December 6 to kick off the season.

My grade school had an annual Christmas pageant. One year my mother had to sew a skirt out of white crepe paper with a red ribbon sash. She was a fabulous seamstress but preferred fabric to crepe paper. She said some naughty words that only came out when she thought I wasn’t in earshot. (By the way, I was always in earshot!)

As you get older things get different. The holidays are just like any other day. Ok, there are still lights and maybe a holiday party but it’s incredibly hard to give a surprise gift. (I never wake up to a new Lexus in the driveway!)

People get sick regardless of the holidays and people die. My Dad died two weeks after Christmas. My friend just lost her mother. It takes the joy out of the season.

Many years ago I had surgery on December 29. That wasn’t a festive year either.  That amped up stress in a way that buying Christmas presents did not.

People divorce and traditions get upended. The concept of a “Currier and Ives” holiday disappearing into the snowy mist.

News headlines don’t add to the cheer either. Could one reporter put a positive spin on a story rather than dig for “who is to blame?”

The expectations of wonder that were implanted as a child slowly disintegrate to the point where you have to remind yourself what it’s all about.

Divorcing yourself of the fantasies, you need to revisit the season with new eyes.

John Lennon was right you know. So what have you done?

This post is for Lynn 

 

30 thoughts on “And so this is Christmas and what have you done?

  1. Years ago, my mother was scheduled for surgery shortly after Christmas. She was not optimistic about the outcome. It turns out her intuition was correct. She went into a coma and died the day after her birthday. Yes, I am filled with sadness this time of year. But I still love the goodness in people, the festive lights, the promise of Jesus’ birth. There have always been hard times, traumatic times. I hope that folks give thoughtful consideration to John Lennon’s question and do something wonderful for someone else. A very thoughtful post, Kate.

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    • So sorry about your Mother. My Dad died in early January and my Mom in mid-January (different years). The combination of the isolation of the cold weather and the lingering sadness makes January not my favorite month. Usually December is much more festive.

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      • My Mom did die in January. I have been feeling very sad and figured out, just yesterday, this is probably the source of it. It all happened just before and shortly after Christmas.

        I am sorry for your loss as well. May your January be brighter as you recall the happy times with your folks.

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  2. Some of these comments are so great…you inspire, no question. I was sad at the part when you were sick. Must have been tough, but look at you now…with it all behind you.
    I see your cats hanging stockings…
    John Lennon was right you know. So what have you done? Great quote.

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  3. You’re right Christmas is different from when we were children. Right now my job living with daughter during the week is to find something, SOMETHING of cheer on a daily basis to make this Christmas special and lasting. I find it in surprising grandson. It’s fun and easy to put a smile on his face in unexpected ways (he’s 11), and that in turn puts a smile on daughter’s face. I could have written a post in response to your post. Thank you for the inspiration. Maybe I’ll write it.

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    • And you should! Christmas does change and it’s up to us to keep the spirit alive although some years are harder than others. My granddaughters are on the other side of the country. We miss out on catching their excitement over the holidays. Sounds like you have learned to make it all work.

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      • Thank you for the kind words, but I can’t take credit. I used to feel in control. Not so much now. It’s a blessing to be here NOW. I really think God has his hand in this because right now it’s about the child who is our grandson.

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  4. The traditions and the giving are still magical. Here are some of the things that still bring me joy: The opportunity to go shopping with my neighbors for the homeless families our neighborhood supports each year. The gathering together with them to wrap the gifts in our clubhouse. The holiday luncheon with my writers group. The Salvation Army pails and bells. (Today as I dropped my dollar in, the worker and I stood and talked for a minute about how beautiful the sky was.) And, of course, the family gatherings with the customary tree and gifts, carols and games. This year my kids and grandkids and I are going together to a dinner theater performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’m really looking forward to that!

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  5. Things are different as we get older and parents age or pass on, but hanging on to some of those old memories can ignite that spark again. I love to break out the old photo albums every Christmas Eve. We laugh at the funny outfits and hairstyles and remembers funny tales of those who are no longer with us. Oh, and I ALWAYS watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. 🙂

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  6. This is when I give to THON. Do it every year. And Jenn and I always do one of bill white’s Christmas light tours. Some homes are spectacular and have boxes out for the food bank. I look forward to that. Happy holidays to all.

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      • Recently unemployed, an overwhelmed Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) flies home for Thanksgiving. She tearfully begs her brother (Robert Downey, Jr.) to join her as ally in this laugh-out-loud look at family ties. Tommy complies, bringing an unexpected visitor (Dylan McDermott) who reminds Claudia to face her fears and embrace life.

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  7.  Kate,Thank you for your words and thoughts.  I may just have to quote from your blog tomorrow.  What you said is so on target.  So well expressed and written.  How well you know me!  How did that happen so fast.  Christmas was my Mom’s favorite holiday.  And your suggestion of a Currier and Ives Christmas pretty much does sum it up.  I miss those idyllic days. Lynn  

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