Another week has come and gone bringing Christmas that much closer. And looking around I see so many people that seem so stressed - rushing around buying presents using their credit cards - and the look on their face is saying something along the line 'how am I ever going to pay for this in January - but I need to buy these gifts.'
I find it so sad to see this happen - trying to visit so many people in one month just because it is 'the season' rather than spreading out the joy of the friendship throughout the year. And so sad to think people are still thinking they need to purchase presents that they really can't afford to purchase just because it is 'the season.'
I look back many years ago (like 65) and I remember receiving few gifts as my parents did not believe in buying on credit - the idea of buy now pay later. And a lot of those gifts were hand made. I have two of the best sisters every - both older. I remember at age 5 receiving a special gift from my oldest sister (she was 15) - a pretty doll with the prettiest straw hat - and around her wrist was her name - Marilyn - boy I was the happiest girl ever. And that was the year I started receiving books as gifts - and each year after I always received a gift of a book from one dear older cousin. We were always allowed to open a present on Christmas Eve and I always went looking for the one from Don, my dear cousin as I knew it would be a book. I remember so many of them 'Black Beauty' 'Little Women' 'Ann of Green Gables' and many more - and with the book he inscribed please enjoy the book and not read it in 2 sittings. Guess what - within 2 - 3 days I would have it read - he usually showed up on the 27th for a visit and I would proudly tell him that I read it and was going to read it again in January which I did. And the Christmas I got that special doll - a special thing happened. My dad had purchased a movie camera and low and behold he caught Santa delivering gifts - a red wagon for my little brother and my doll - I was at the age of not believing in Santa but that made me believe for another year - then I realized it was my sweet mom all dressed up as Santa. Oh how I miss those days and miss them.
Another favorite memory of Christmas was dinner. My grandparents (my mothers parents) lived in the same town as well as all of her sisters and one brother. And there were a lot of them - we had many gatherings throughout the year but Christmas was so special. They rented a hall in the town we lived in (population at that time was around 1,000) and my grandparents and all their children, their spouses and all grandchildren got together for dinner. Along with 2 different families that did not have family so my grandparents always included them in the family gathering. How many people were there for a sit down turkey dinner - 75 - 25 every year. Imagine the smell of all the turkeys cooking - I come from a family of great cooks - so each year there was a large amount of turkey and all the trimmings and then of course the wonderful baking.
After the meal I we would exchange a gift - each member of each family had drawn a name to buy from. But the gifts weren't handed out till 'Santa' arrived - my oldest cousin (10 years older) is the one I remember doing this honor - a present would be handed to him, he would call out the name and then we had to go up on stage and sit on his lap while he asked if we had been good or not - then he would give the gift.
My sweet mom each year for years got all of kids (till we were close to 10) and dressed us all up and we put on the Christmas Story - the birth of Christ - remember this like it was yesterday.
And then the best part - the music. I come from a very musical family - there was a piano in the hall that we rented, and guitar, violin, bass fiddle, and accordion. We would all around and sing for about 2 1/2 hours and sometimes later. We arrived at the hall just after lunch so that the aunts could do the cooking and the children played. And we got home close to midnight. Everyone had a chore to do - setting up the tables, vegetables to prepare or potatoes, cutting of the turkey, making gravy and then all the clean up - everyone would have a turn of either cleaning tables, washing or drying dishes and there was never a complain as we all just loved to be together.
Times have changed now. My grandparents are long passed, as well as all the aunts and uncles as well as one cousin. My dear older sister (age 80) is now the 'head' of the extended family - and must say that seems so strange that it has been pasted on to her. The cousins still get together though not all of us can make each gathering but usually once a year as many as possible come together. But times are changing - each of us now spends time with our own family as we all have moved further away. But when we get together it is nice - but we noticed at the last gathering the changes. All of us cousins that grew up together are now in our 70's and starting to hit the 80's. And our children just don't get the same thing out of the gathering of the family.
So nice to take time to reflect on past times - and to look forward to what is coming up. Am so thankful for the loving family I come from - yes we as a family had our problems like most families do but we had a unique family. All those gathers held throughout the year never knowing whether it would be just mom, dad and us 4 kids or if another family of 6 would be showing up for supper - such fond memories being raised with all the cousins .
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and the best of the New Year - take time to remember the loved ones that are not with you now and enjoy those that are - make good memories so that down the road those behind you will remember with great love.