I was reading this blog tonight, as I do on Sunday evenings. When I came across several photos of kids with Christmas trees, I realized something. When people ask me what my favorite Christmas gift was from childhood, I can't really say. I have this montage of Christmases that go through my head, but I don't have really any one toy or item that I remember in that way. Maybe the stereo I got when I was about 14?
We don't have endless photos of us in Christmas finery or going to buy Christmas trees...I don't know how many real trees we had. I remember where I lived, I remember the Christmas we drove from Pennsylvania to Dallas, Texas with all of our unopened Christmas gifts on the roof of our Ford Pinto. I was 9 years old. I remember crossing the mighty Mississippi River and asking my dad if he was sure he had tied down the box that held our gifts. I never liked to tell people this story because I felt like I shouldn't have been worried about those presents. I was. We had just moved back to the States from Germany and everything we owned in the world was on some ship somewhere on its way to Florida to sit in storage. The only hope of fun or comfort was tied to the roof of the car. As the wind blew across the top of the car, I could feel it sway and I had images of the box opening and everything - all the wrapped gifts with their ribbons and bows flying out and floating down the river. I didn't say anything more about it because I didn't want them to know that I was afraid of losing it all. The only gift I remember from that year, specifically, is a set of word search books. I worked my way through every single one of those books eventually.
We never did anything on Christmas Eve - it was all about Christmas morning and then playing all day and trying not to irritate my father. He sat silently in his chair most years - observing but not participating. Not even to take pictures.
I fall somewhere in between now. I like the music, I like the decorations, I like people trying to be nice to each other. I don't like the social pressure, I don't like hypocrisy ("Let's hang out together for hours and hours and spend lots of money on each other, giving gifts that are completely meaningless because they aren't heartfelt"), I don't like feeling like I HAVE to be cheerful all the time. I wish I could enjoy it more. I do.
This year, I have been listening to more Christmas music and I have most of my shopping done. That has to count for something...right?