Putting The I In Christmas

December 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

Christmas tree icon

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It’s that time of year again – the season that begins with festive décor emerging in the stores early in the fall and ends with many people making pledges they won’t keep.

Christmas time means something different to everyone. I’m not going to rant about the over-commercialization and out-of-control spending of the season. That becomes obvious in January when the credit card bills arrive.

Although I was raised in the Church where they celebrate “true meaning of Christmas” tradition, I’m also not the person to write on that topic. Still others in society don’t celebrate the season at all for religious reasons.

Kathleen Smith, a friend in Edmonton, provided food for thought in a recent Facebook status update. It helped underline that Christmas is really an individual thing.

Kathleen wrote: “Let hope fill our hearts. Shine a light through the dark. All around the world and everywhere, this is my Christmas prayer.

“Yes, I know I’m a self-proclaimed Atheist, but it’s CHRISTMAS for heaven’s sake! ;-).”

Although I consider myself a small ‘c’ Christian, Kathleen’s remarks resonated with me, so here was my response:

“Then that is what your season is about: giving thanks, spreading joy and hope, using the holidays to spend much-deserved time with family and friends.”

“Thank you, David 😉 That’s exactly what it is for me,” Kathleen responded.

“Although I was raised in the Church, the season is all about family and friends and taking me time. I can’t stand all the commercialism,” I replied.

Kathleen responded with: “This is the one time a year I allow my crusty, hard old broad exterior to crumble. I believe in Christmas; its message of peace and love and family. Christmas reconnects me with humanity, disconnects me from being jaded and bitter.”

I remember very few individual gifts but have many special memories of the holiday season. You will notice a trend amongst my highlights.

There was 1984 when my car was out of commission, having been hit just a few days before Christmas. My friends Darrell and Kathy Skidnuk, who were travelling to Edmonton to visit family, gave me a ride so I could spend the holidays with Joyce.

We whiled away the time rockin’ out to tunes with me in the backseat using the snow brush as an air guitar.

For Christmas 1985 (a green Christmas … yayyyy), Howard Elliott, publisher of the Daily Herald-Tribune, and his wife Pearl, hosted all the orphans from the paper (those who had no family in town and were not travelling for the holidays). The following year, Joyce and I did the honours at our apartment.

Joyce and I were reminiscing about that holiday celebration just the other day, particularly the food involved. One of the guests prepared a most memorable crab bisque.

For Christmas 1987, our first in Sault Ste. Marie, the best thing was that Joyce arrived just in time to join me for the Big Day. We’d had to live apart about a month as we made the transition from Alberta to Ontario.

Christmas 1989 was our first with Peter. We didn’t put up a tree that year with a toddler just beginning to roam. Between him and Sammi, our first dog, we thought the ornaments would be in jeopardy.

We used a poinsettia on the coffee table as a tree.

Christmases between 1991 and 2006 were shared with our friends Jeni and Jim Rice and their daughters, Erin and Mackenzie. Neither couple had family in the community so we became the next best thing, taking turns hosting each year. A couple of times, Jeni’s parents joined in from Pennsylvania. Jim’s mom came up a few times from Toronto. Once, my brother Dennis visited from Edmonton.

Our first Christmas with the Rices illustrated why we were as good as family. Jeni underestimated the time to cook the huge bird she’d purchased and dinner was delayed until about 8 p.m. No worries, we had plenty of snacks and wine.

Speaking of making spirits bright, Jeni’s dad, Bill, poured the best glass of scotch! It was always a highlight guessing what fruit combination Jim would come up with for his sumptuous pie.

This year, we will be visiting Peter in Edmonton, getting down to the provincial capital a couple of days ahead of the World Junior Hockey Championship. We have tickets to five games.

Notice how none of these memories involve gifts wrapped with care under the tree? I also didn’t insist we put the ‘Christ’ in Christmas. All my favourite festive thoughts revolve around family, friend and food.

While Kathleen is an atheist and I am a believer, we both agree that this time of year is about celebrating the good things in life, remembering family and friends near and far, looking after the less fortunate, and looking forward with hopes the world will be a better place.

I think that is what Christ would want.

Regardless of how you feel about the season, I wish you all the best for a safe and joyous season.  All the best for a healthy and prosperous 2012.

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§ 3 Responses to Putting The I In Christmas

  • I always go with “Best of the Season” or “Season’s Greetings” and the neutral “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” for while I too am a small “c” Christian I have friends from many different religious backgrounds.

    I have been fortunate to have had fantastic “Christmases” spent in many exotic ports around the world but the key component has always been family and friends and sharing something that is special and sacred – companionship coupled with love.

  • Beautiful David. Love it!
    It’s exactly how I feel. I was not baptized, the parents could not agree. One was catholic the other Lutheran.
    So I did my own journey from being a non-believer to someone who minored in world religions to a spiritual person who is tolerant and respectful of all beliefs, to a new wife who married a Muslim man!
    About 10 years ago or so I declared to my family no gifts!
    I don’t do decorations only because I’m lazy and cannot bare to think of spending the coin on all the trimmings. We gather as a family, friends included, we make and eat some wonderful food and we give thanks!

    It’s certainly a time for reflection and it is different for everyone. What I like most about your post is that the memories of company, food, and good times that were treasured!

  • Christmas is about having a houseful on Christmas Eve, staying up late to clean the mess then having a rusty nail before bed (one last one that is). It is about waking up and having a coffee or hot chocolate with those nearby and toasting those not so close. It is about people trickling in and out of the house all day long and enjoying the relaxed busyness of it all. It is about the joy of that overseas call, the stories of Christmas past with all of those in Christmas present. It is about family, friends, food, drink & most importantly, Love.
    Thanks for sharing.

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