Somehow this year it just isn’t happening.
I have wonderful memories of childhood Christmases: we celebrated on Christmas Eve so that a maiden aunt could be with us (a surgical nurse, unmarried and without children, she always volunteered for the holidays so that others could be home with their families). It was a small meal of frozen fruit salad and toasted cheese buns (now that does neither justice as they were both about the most scrumptious dishes possible!) followed by us piling into the car to go look at the decorated houses – our pockets stuffed full of cookies (the one night that our mother didn’t limit us – so, yes, most of us got sick on cookies at some point during our childhood, but we never learned the lesson and usually simply repeated it the following year).
My first year in Europe a bunch of us spent Christmas in Salzburg, Austria and my memories of the kindness of the hotel keeper (wee present of cookies and chocolates on our beds) as well as the Gregorian chanting in the cathedral are still ever-present in my mind.
I returned to Europe, married and had a family: Christmas Eve was still the important event as my husband had also celebrated then. Although we were often with either my in-laws or my own family for the holidays, we did have the odd one here and always followed our own family traditions (I did try my childhood food on them, it didn’t go over that big, but then neither did the German traditions) so we created our own. To this day, Christmas celebrations aren’t unless there is shrimp cocktail and smoked salmon: followed by (some things remain the same) as many cookies as one can – or is willing – to eat.
The past two years we have celebrated a week in advance. This has lots of merit in that it is less stressful and one is thereafter free to participate – or not – in any other activities or invitations: I even invited my neighbors down for a meal as simply felt like it and had the leisure to organize.
Still, without young children, it just doesn’t seem the same. I have been more attracted to a new Christmas song written by Air Bear Music/Linda’s Boys Music/(Warner-Tamerlane Pub Corp.) and sung by several musicians: “Grown-up Christmas List”. From Wikipedia: "Grown-Up Christmas List" (sometimes titled "My Grown-Up Christmas List") is a Christmas song composed by David Foster (music) and Linda Thompson-Jenner (lyrics), and originally recorded by Foster (with singer Natalie Cole on vocals) for his 1990 non-holiday album River of Love. Though it was also released as a single, the song was not a hit upon its first appearance. In 1992, however, Amy Grant recorded a version for her second holiday album, Home for Christmas. Grant's version featured altered lyrics and an additional verse that Grant penned herself. Her record label at the time, A&M Records, promoted the song as the second single from the album, and it received substantially more radio airplay than the original version by Foster.
I love the chorus: “No more lives torn apart; that wars would never start and time would heal all hearts. Everyone would have a friend and right would always win and love would never end.”
I dedicate this to all my family and friends – those who stand by when times are rough, who celebrate with me when things go well: may the love never end!
|My latest Christmas tree ornament: an oak leaf from Yosemite National Park given to me by my brother this fall.|