I hate cold weather, but Christmas time brings out the warm and fuzzy in me. This time of year, I cheerfully hum a tune, decorate the tree, and anticipate spending time with family. There is an idealist in me that “would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Even people seem more jolly and kinder to their fellow man.
My fondness of the season is because I associate it most with happiness, tradition, and family. I grew up working class, but there was one thing that I received an over-abundance of — love. I grew up feeling safe and knowing that I was loved by my parents, grandparents, and a host of aunts and uncles. There were always presents under the tree, but what I remember most is family time.
The house smelled of baked goods. Nuts, hard candy, and pomegranates would appear on end tables. We would make snow angels and a snowman. Dad, aunts, and uncles would join in snowball fights. We would be bundled up to the point of suffocation and head to an open field by the elementary school that would freeze. Everyone, old and young, would run and slide on the ice.
Christmas day was excitement! My mom made our stockings and would hang them on the staircase. However, Christmas morning the stockings were off the staircase on the sofa stuffed with treats and goodies that would have broken the staircase. Mom and dad said we had to sleep past midnight and only after midnight could we come downstairs. My sisters and I would wake at 3 a.m. to open presents, not knowing Mom and Dad just fell asleep. They would watch us open presents and head back to bed until breakfast. Our parents never asked us what we wanted for Christmas. My sisters and I just circled toys in the Sears catalog and maybe you received it. We always received clothes for Christmas in addition to toys. The sofa was sectioned off in three, one for each child so you always knew your gifts. After a big breakfast, we would get dressed in our new clothes and take one toy to visit both sets of grandparents. All of the aunts and uncles came to the grandparents on Christmas. You knew all the cousins would be there so you could play with their toys too.
The first stop of the day was always Mom’s mom, Granny. Granny had a small tree, but it did not matter because of the love, warmth, and food. Good eating was always guaranteed at Granny’s house. Then we would be off to Dad’s mom, Grandma. Grandma had a huge white aluminum tree that was wrapped in red tinsel, like Charlie Brown. Maybe that is why I am a Snoopy fanatic and love A Charlie Brown Christmas, because it reminds me of her.
The gifts were nice, but the best memories happened after presents were opened. We sat around and reminisced about loved ones gone, Christmases past, seeing a new generation come up, and watched black-and-white Christmas movies. I liked watching my mom and dad dancing together, seeing Granny play with our toys, and hearing aunts and uncles talk about who was the worst sibling (to be saved as ammunition when my parents would say “I don’t know where you get that from”).
I celebrate Christmas because of my faith. I love Christmas because it reminds me that the greatest worldly possession I have is gathered around me on that day – family.
Also published on Huffington Post.