Here it is the middle of December already. I thought I just closed the pool for the season and there’s already snow on the ground! I’ve got the tree up and decorated, as well as the living room and dining room. The stockings are hung from the mantel and the manger is in place watching over everything. Kevin has the lights on the outside of the house and the reindeer and angels are prominently displayed with their brilliant white lights. The shopping is finished already and the gifts are waiting to be wrapped. There’s Christmas music emanating from Alexa and my favorite little ornamental village church filling the whole house with holiday spirit. So why do I have mixed feelings?
…I was terrified of Santa Claus and refused to go near him…
As a child I loved Christmas with all of the decorations, Christmas carols and of course waiting for Santa’s visit. I have fond memories of our Christmas tree with all its colorful decorations, many of which were handmade. We had two big evergreen trees growing in our yard that I couldn’t wait to decorate until they became way too tall to put lights extending to the top. Even though I was terrified of Santa Claus and refused to go near him when I visited a department store where he was greeting children, I wanted him to bring me presents. I especially loved Christmas Eve when all of my relatives came to visit and my father made his famous” Tom and Jerry” drinks. Instead of alcohol my brothers and my cousins had ginger ale in the mugs until we reached the drinking age.
We weren’t rich, but I didn’t know that.
I can remember waking early and scrambling downstairs Christmas morning to find that Santa had been there and left everybody beautifully wrapped gifts. Even though we didn’t have a fireplace I never questioned how Santa got into the house. I can still smell my mother’s pies and turkey cooking in the oven as I played with my new toys and got ready to attend mass. While we were waiting for Christmas dinner I would go visit my friends in the neighborhood and they would visit me. We were all very happy that Santa had been so nice to us. We weren’t rich, but I didn’t know that. To me, all was right with the world.
I knew Christmas was only for one day and soon it would be all over.
Then I grew up and things changed. I moved away from home and developed mixed feelings towards Christmas and the holidays. I was coming to terms with the fact I was gay and felt out of place when I went home for the holidays and was forced to endure questioning as to why I wasn’t married or when I would meet a nice girl. When I finally came out to my family I still felt as an outsider and tended to blend into the wall when I went home. After a while I gave up on making the holiday trip through the treacherous snow belt of upstate New York and buried myself in my work, only taking Christmas day off. Even though I was invited to spend Christmas with neighbors and friends I preferred to stay home and spend Christmas with my dog. I had a small tree and decorated the outside of the house mainly to prove to people I wasn’t a lonely hermit. I knew Christmas was only for one day and soon it would be all over.
This isn’t Christmas, it’s commerce!
What happened to me? I still enjoyed the Christmas decorations in the malls and the beautiful lights and displays of my then home, Boston. I loved to listen to the Christmas carols playing on the radio and blaring throughout the malls bustling with shoppers. It was odd though that I only liked the traditional religiously-themed carols because I am not a religious person. I still feel the same way towards the carols I hear today. It angered me when our beautiful traditional carols were used to hawk all kinds of merchandise as Christmas gifts! Even though I liked going to the malls I hated shopping. I felt and still do feel as though people now feel obligated to buy presents, for not only their family but just about everyone they know. To this day I abhor the television commercials where a husband and wife give each other a new Mercedes and think nothing of it. How many people can afford to do that? How many people can’t even afford an old used car? I would complain to myself “this isn’t Christmas, it’s commerce”! Christmas would be better without having to buy presents. After all, why should we have to prove our love to those we care for by giving them presents they really don’t need?
Christmas is about a Jewish couple and their infant child, living in the Middle East, seeking aid and shelter in their time of need!
The one aspect of the holiday season that I have always loved is that people (most people that is) are exceptionally kind to each other and go out of their way to greet others with joyfulness and concern. This year I feel especially confused and upset with what my country is doing to the poor people seeking asylum on our southern border and by our government demonizing immigrants and people of color. As far as I remember Christmas is about a Jewish couple and their infant child, living in the Middle East, seeking aid and shelter in their time of need! It saddens me also to realize that even though everyone is gushing with love and kindness during this season, things will be back to normal with the hateful, nasty and disrespectful language and behavior that pervades our society today. The poor, the homeless and the less fortunate among us will once again be forgotten until the holiday season next year.
“it’s only one day”
I am no longer alone and I now celebrate the Christmas holidays with my husband who really never celebrated before, as he is not a Christian and was born and raised in a predominantly Muslim country. His enthusiasm and desire to help others has sort of reinvigorated my interest in Christmas. He gets as excited about helping the less fortunate in our community as he does about decorating our house to the max. Although he’s also not religious I think he has developed the “feelings” about the holiday that I once had as a child. We look forward to celebrating with family, friends, and neighbors, as I did as a child, but we also cannot forget that for many people there isn’t much to celebrate. I’m no longer alone, but I can’t forget that there are many, many people who are alone, and lonely. The holidays only reinforce their sense of loneliness. Maybe they deal with it the way I used to and think, “it’s only one day”. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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