Some thoughts on the modern holiday.
My kids have suggested that growing up with me was like living in a gift shop. I generated and collected tablecloths, curtains, table settings, and… well you get the idea, for every month. I never met a holiday I didn’t like. I studied holidays. When I found a fun custom I added it. Well, I’ve learned better. At least a little.
That’s probably why so many people in America feel so overwhelmed at this time of year. We try to do it all. Used to be there were things our cultures did and they were welcome reminders of the turning of the seasons and the things that were right in our lives. Now we want to do everything possible. If the lights and inflatable snowmen have filled the front yard but we see another new fun offering, they begin to spill into the back yard.
This isn’t making a winter wonderland. It’s making us crazy. But as we have been trying to pare down to get down to sanity I’ve discovered that the biggest element of the things that mean a lot to us is the sense of familiarity. We want the things we remember from our childhoods- even if they are the incredibly ugly forties style stockings that my grandmother knit for all her daughter’s kids, and then Mother knit for each of her grandchildren (and I’ve knit for my kids dolls- I’ll knit them for any grandchildren that come along), and the cookies and carols we remember.
Sure we make our holidays the way we want them. I don’t think any two trees look just the same. But that’s why we visit each other. We can enjoy seeing what’s special to our friends and family. You don’t need to own a sunset to enjoy it. I would love to see a Krampus night, but we don’t have one in our town, and frankly, I think I’d rather be with my family than standing in an Austrian street with cold feet to see it. Every new version of A Christmas Carol seems to be wonderful in its own right. The variations make the holidays sparkle.
Merry Christmas – many times, many ways- to all.