Christmas has and always will be the most nostalgic day of the year for me. It’s about familiarity of the five senses and that warm feeling that takes over when December 25th moves closer and closer. It’s Bing Crosby crooning White Christmas and Mele Kalikimaka (although I never really knew how to pronounce the title) and Judy Garland serenading us with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
It’s the smell of gingerbread baking and a warm cup of cocoa. On a less comfortable note, it's the ugliest Eastern red cedar tree masquerading as a Christmas tree in our living room. My dad always thought it was dual use to get rid of a cedar and not have to buy a real tree. Anytime I’d come in contact with it I break out and catching a whiff of it reminded us that a bob cat had visited that tree not long before we chopped it down.
It’s the coziness of running to your stocking in your pajamas to see what Santa brought and the sound of wrapping paper tearing. It’s Miracle on 34th Street or Home Alone playing on the TV above a glowing fireplace. It compels people to gift homemade cookies and candies to others just to see their faces light up, when in reality it sometimes gives more delight to the giver than the receiver. The Christmas season is unmistakable, but Christmas isn’t the same anymore.
The stocking are hung, the cookies are on the platter and Bing is playing loud enough for all to hear, but many of the people who used to be at family Christmas are nowhere to be found. They made Christmas special after all, the gifts and sweet treats helped, but without my great-grandparents, grandma and grandpa and several other treasured family members and friends, it just isn’t the same feeling.
I miss Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma Colleen’s house. Every year on the 24th I crave a bowl of her chili. I miss my great grandmother’s pumpkin bread and the hugs she gave after saying “come on over here so I can love on you!” I miss eagerly awaiting my Pa walking in the door and making sure he tried one of my sugar cookies.
The thing is when you’re young, the presents are the focus of Christmas and it doesn’t really sink in that the small things that happen each year are traditions slowly taking hold of you and they won’t always be available for the rest of your Christmases.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t like change. In fact, I actively work against it on a daily basis and changes at Christmastime are really hard for me to accept. I want it to be Christmas 1999 every year and we’d better eat the same meal we’ve have had since I was born, the good China must be used, everybody needs to be there and if my mother doesn’t put up every single Christmas decoration I will lose it. Now that I’m typing this I’m starting to sound like Clark W. Griswold.
But you know what? Every year Christmas changes a little more and it’s out of my control. Our family adds new little ones or significant others, my mother decides paper plates would be less of a pain than China or she tries a new cuisine for Christmas dinner instead of a turkey. I am definitely not saying I am for these changes, but I have come to accept that Christmas is a feeling more than a tangible thing. I will still remember the smell of Grandma Colleen’s famous peanut brittle even though she is not here to serve it to us. I refuse to let change make or break my Christmas spirit and I hope you make that decision too.
Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or email@example.com.