Christmas. You can feel it. See it. Hear it, and yes, you can even smell it. The holiday season is in full swing. The hustle, the bustle of shopping, parties and celebrations, or the clicks of a mouse ringing in the air to purchase those online gifts.
Personally, I enjoy the holidays and I always have.
It was my father, who loved to party, and my grandmother’s favorite time of year, so I inherited their exuberance for the upcoming festivities.
Even so, traditions over the years have changed. I mean, I get it. Times have changed. Lives are so much busier than they were thirty or forty years ago. Families are always on the go. Who has the time?
But still there are a few new customs that have popped up in recent years that have me scratching my head and makes me yearn for the old days.
Retail Adverting/Selling Christmas Presents, Décor, etc. after Thanksgiving
I’m aware, this practice bugs everyone I know. Christmas items displayed before Halloween, excuse me, I’ve seen a Christmas aisle in a hobby store as early as July. Drives me insane. It definitely takes away some of the holiday’s specialness, spirit, and excitement.
I have to wonder, do stores actually sell the products this time of year? I rarely see anything marked down to bargain prices, and the aisles have very few shoppers browsing, yet Christmas items seemed to be exhibited earlier to as each year passes.
I have to believe the merchandise sells or marketers would abandon the lunacy.
This is still done, but a lot is commercial. Seriously, what’s with all of the cartoon inflatables? They have nothing to do with the holiday. I’ll let a penguin or something wintery slide, but you cannot put a Santa hat on a minion and turn it into a Christmas character.
Where are the lights, Christmas Trees, (or at least decorated trees in the front yards), and the Nativity scenes? My family used to drive through local neighborhoods to view the Christmas lights. Many neighborhoods even had contests to see who had the best outdoor decorations.
This is a tradition that was even carried on when my kids were growing up. In fact, they still enjoy the excursion. But residents don’t “light up” their yards like they once did. Again, I’m sure it goes back to time and expense.
Nowadays, you have to drive through parks or other designated areas to get a view of twinkling lights. Other than having to pay a load of cash per carload, that’s fine. Most exhibits are well-done and enjoyable, but I do miss my neighbor’s raw creativity.
(Side note: I loved to decorate the exteriors of my home – it’s been stated that I used enough lights to land planes. Unfortunately, as I’ve “matured,” I’m less confident in ladder climbing and hanging lights at the same time, so I’ve stopped the practice.)
Shopping in Stores
There was a time I made a huge list of gifts I intended to buy for family and friends. Then I made a day of going out a purchasing everything on my list. I didn’t mind the traffic or the long lines. Even with the crowds, people smiled more and seemed friendlier. Happy. Something about this time of year truly does bring out the brighter side of everyone’s personality.
I realize this is still an available option, and as someone who is addicted to retail therapy, I do make it to the stores and shop. Still, a lot of my buying time is spent online, not only for convenience, (I can shop in my sweat pants) but there’s a vast more selection and availability. Online shopping is just more practical, only sometimes I wish the world would disregard practicality and enjoy.
Here again is convenience, and I’m all for quick and easy when it comes to saving time, but I sure do miss the waiting with anticipation, shaking and guessing what’s inside a beautifully wrapped package under the tree, then ripping off the paper to discover the surprise.
I know, wrapping is time consuming and once the present is opened, the paper is nothing more than trash. Clean up is a pain.
Gift bags are so much handier. They’re easier to transport. Once you’ve opened the present, you can put the gift back inside and carry it home, plus, they’re reusable. But still, can’t you just hear the wrapping paper tearing followed by shrieks of joy?
I use gift bags for Secret Santa’s and whatnot, but my family still gets wrapped gifts. (Gift bags are also too easy to peek inside!)
Growing up, I seemed to recall cooler weather Thanksgiving through New Year. That may be a distorted memory.
Anyone who know me well, knows I’m not a fan of cold weather, and I understand we have no control over the weather, I do believe it ought to be a law that the air must be on the colder side during this time of year. (No blizzards or ice, please. Just jacket weather.)
I say this because I do have the distinct memory of wearing shorts on Christmas Eve one year. I live in Central Texas, therefore, one never knows what will happen weather-wise at Christmas. It may be thirty degrees or ninety.
I also remember waking up on Christmas day to the sound of the heater running. Smells lingered from the kitchen where my mom was already up cooking. I’d snuggle back under my covers and try to make myself go back to sleep, but couldn’t because I was too excited.
This year, I’m hoping for the fifty-sixty range so I can at least wear longer sleeves. The extra chill in the air seems to enhance the holiday. I mean it’s no fun drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace while running the A/C.
Big Family Get Together’s
Our family used to get together EVERY holiday, but the most memories I have are the one’s from Christmas. We’d all get dressed up. Everyone would come to our house on Christmas Eve. Mom would cook all day, Daddy would taste test and go buy the booze. I was in charge of cleaning house.
Around five thirty, everyone would start to arrive. We’d eat, drink, and then Dad would take us out to shoot fireworks. We’d come back inside and low and behold, Santa had made his visit and presents were piled high around the tree.
The present opening would begin.
After everyone left and my stash was safely in my room, mom and I would clean up the wrapping paper, and then I would go back and inspect my gifts.
The next day, Christmas, we’d go to my grandmothers or great-aunt’s for more family time. Once more, we’d eat together and socialize. Occasionally, other family members would travel from out of town, and we’d have additional packages to unwrap.
I do miss those days, but most of those good people are gone and the rest of us grew up. We all have our own traditions, which is great, too, even if they’re much quieter rituals.
Marry Christmas, everyone. From the Jupe/Haney’s.