At 74 years of age I still get excited about the sparkling arrival of the Christmas season, watching the hustle and bustle everywhere, and getting caught up with the sheer excitement of our grand-children as they try to be extra good and begin their magic countdown to the arrival of the big guy with the long white beard and the hardy ho-ho-ho.
As we all bring out our many dusty boxes of Christmas decorations and festive nick-knacks, we will likely replace some of them with a few of the newest glitzy ornaments and fancy flashing strobe and LED lights with battery packs. As overwhelmed seniors we will certainly dig in our heels and save some of those cherished Christmas heirlooms that have been in the family for generations, including grandma’s tarnished angel for the top of the tree, the bubble lights, the age-old mistletoe, and on and on. The holiday festive season will always be a special time for everyone, but now that we have a lot more time to reminisce and browse through the family photo albums, we will try to follow some of the favourite old traditions and memories, while just loving to share our humble tales and observations of Christmases from yesterday and today.
• Those of us who are now in our so-called ‘Golden Years’ will recall that when we were kids we headed out into the country-side with the whole family and spent many chilly hours finding the perfect Christmas tree. Once we got it into a pot of dirt in the living room we smothered it with shiny icicles, tinsel, coloured paper streamers, glass ornaments, popcorn balls and all the rest. Today they have tree lots and many varieties of artificial models, some of which come completely decorated and only need to be plugged in.
• Many of us will remember as kids spending hours making our own Christmas cards or cutting them out of those store-bought books. Before the arrival of computers just about everyone used to send out a whole bunch of nice cards to friends and family, which along all sorts of parcels kept the post office very busy.
Today we have email, cell-phones, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and whatever else to send our seasons greetings and pictures. Once we figure out how, as parents and grandparents we are now blessed with the amazing opportunity of contacting our family and friends whereever they may be in seconds, and how special is that over the holidays when we can chat face to face, especially with those who couldn’t make it home.
• We all love the music and movies of the Christmas season, and even though they may have sped up and gone hip-hop and ski-fie over the years, they still play some of the ‘golden oldies’ and many of us likely still have our all-time old favourites tucked away just for the occasion. My all time best tunes include: White Christmas, Xmas Don’t be Late by the Chipmunks, Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer, and I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus; while my favourite age-old movies are: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas (Bing Crosby), and the original Christmas Carol with dear old Ebenezer Scrooge. I have no doubt that you all have many other assorted classics of yesterday and today that you love to watch and hear, at least once a year. Most of us have had the joy of singing Christmas carols, whether outside for the neighbours or at the annual community concerts, and even though we may be just a little out of tune, the magnificent spirit and true meaning of the age old sacred occasion will always ring out loud and clear.
• Christmas Eve at our little bungalow on Riverside Drive so many years ago began with dressing up for the always special evening church service, then back home to watch family movies of us growing up while sipping hot chocolate and nibbling short bread cookies. We were never allowed to get up too early on Christmas morning, with the cardinal rule being breakfast first, then all gathering around the tree to take turns sharing gifts. We also got to pick through all the goodies that were jammed into dad’s old woolen socks and hung on the mantelpiece, then after all the hustle and bustle the living room was cleaned up and we all sat down quietly to watch ‘The Queen’s Message’ on television.
• No matter how many jolly Christmases we can fondly remember, I will always believe that the age-old traditions of this most glorious holiday will never ever really ever change that much, including that most fabulous meal together with family and friends as well as that ongoing spirit of giving and sharing among fine folks of all ages and all walks of life. We must always take a little time to smell and sample the grand aromas and treats of the festive season, and then just go ahead and have a real great week, all of you.