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CHRISTMAS...A TIME OF EXTREMES

 
 
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 05:36 pm
Christmas in our home was a big..big deal. It was a grand and glorius moment in time. Years later, I would discover my mother needed for it to be.

I don't remember getting toys and such during the year. So...Christmas was the time to receive the Lionel train, new clothes, fancy oranges, chocolate...lots and lots of hard candy. I use to try and sneak in the front room...say, around 2, 3 or 4 o'clock. But you know mom, she would catch me just before I rounded the corner in the kitchen. That woman must of stayed awake all night.

While still in my early teens, my dad had to drive to Missouri, something about grandma being ill or even dead. On Christmas Eve night, mom took me into the basement. With my father gone, I was the one who had to put together the toys. Christmas changed.

Years later, I spent Christmas day in Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. I can see myself standing alone on the second level, peering onto the grassy area encircled by the buildings. The wind whistled clearly across the grounds, then loud individual voices pierced the wind shouts. The afternoon sun began to reveal four human shapes crisscrossing the grounds. The tones became clearer; male, female, young, old, they metamophed into living people. Lonliness becomes defined at such times. I am standing on a concrete slab on Christmas Day, thousands of miles from my family in Anderson, Indiana.

After my divorce, I found myself crying. Maybe I was watching a tv program or reading a book. Then, boom, the tears would flow. Later, they would cease. I would wipe my face and continue what I had been doing. My daughter had been, was, my best buddy. She was now in Cincinnati, Ohio and I was laboring in Thomasville, GA. Sad...deep sadness.

Two years ago, B. and I visited a wonderful family in Maryland. Two adults and two delightful talented daughters. Just before Christmas of that same year, the father told his wife he could not feel his leg and then the other became numb. He died. He had been the glue in the family.

Christmas...a time of extreme emotions.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 06:12 pm
My grandfather died a few days after Christmas, 1961 . . . that "holiday" was never the same again for me . . .
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bandylu2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 07:51 pm
I have been really looking forward to this Christmas -- I always really look forward to Christmas because it is my favorite time of the year. We had terrific Christmasses when I was a kid, and we've had excellent ones throughout our 34 years of marriage -- especially after the kids came along. Even now that they've grown up and have lives of their own, they both have been back here each Christmas.

Since we're planning to retire and move away next year, I figured this could be the last year we will all be together (hubby's brother and his family and my mother-in-law always come over Christmas Eve, too). We're not moving that far away, but my son can never get just one day off from his job, and he can never get 4 day weekends, so unless Christmas falls on a Friday or a Monday, there's little chance he'll be able to actually be there on the day. I wanted it to be super special because of this -- something for all of us to remember.

Now we've got my mother-in-law in the hospital and have no idea what shape she'll be in by Christmas. And I've not been able to finish my shopping because all of our clients have become very late payers and money has consequently become extremely tight. Oh, well, as they say, " the best laid plans of mice and men"
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 07:51 pm
Christmas had been a magical time for the childhood me, I think because the rest of my life was so dismal. It was the one time of year when magic happenings were trumpeted about, the one time my siblings and I were given special treatment. My grinch stepfather said to my mother more than once, "I never got anything for Christmas. I don't see why they should get anything." Mom persisted, and most of the time came through with a memorable holiday. We each would usually get a stocking bag full of nuts, an apple, an orange and hard candy, plus a toy of some sort. There were some Christmases when we got little, but the magic of the season overrode the dissappointment for me. One year our presents cost less than a dollar each. I opened mine with disappointment, but I understood the sacrifice Mom made to get us that. At the same moment I watched one of my half brothers open his present - a 69 cent Tinker Toy in a small round box. By the time he had the toy half unwrapped it was leaving his hands, arcing through the air, landing in the trash can. One year we had no tree two days or so before Christmas. My older brother pulled a healthy branch off a eucalyptus tree and brought it home for Mom to decorate. It made a pretty nice tree. Another year we saw the kids up the block playing out on the sidewalk with their gifts a week before Christmas Day. My little sister mentioned her hopes to Mom. Mom replied, "You'll be lucky to even get any dinner this year." That Christmas Eve we sat in our tiny home expecting the holiday to completely pass us by. A knock at the door signalled the arrival of the principal of my school. He and one other person came in with armloads of gifts. We were all too stunned to speak to him. My Mom said thank you or something and he left. Today I celebrate the season with the same excitement as then. I begin preparing on Halloween and let the joy and happiness build all the way through until the last gift is given and the last Merry Christmas is said. I scarcely allow myself to contemplate how drear and gloomy winter would be without the razzle dazzle and good will we celebrate. And I push the tale of A CHRISTMAS CAROL the whole year long, anxious for each new season to begin.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 08:23 pm
Egads edgarblythe I haven't thought of tinker toys in years I used to love playing with tinker toys. In fact I had to really struggle to play with them because they were my cousin's toys at Christmas they always got such good stuff. I have 12 cousins all boys and I always wanted to play with there stuff first. Funny though they never wanted to play with my stuff except one year my Uncle Pete bought me an electric car, a black caddy convertible, then they wanted to my car so I bargained with them, guess I was born with the union gene.

Our Christmas days were so much fun. First we did our gift opening at home and then went to my grand parents house, 32 two of us in all. The living room would be full of presents everyone exchanged gifts and my grand father called out names one by one it just about kid us kids. After gift opening my grandma, my mom and aunts all retreated to the kitchen to get dinner while we played with our new toys.

The best part was after dinner my Uncle Pete would gather us all up in his station wagon and take us out in the boonies to "let off some steam" while the women did dishes and my other uncles played Euchre. Then when we got back it was time for dessert and then we all played various and sundry games until it was time to go home.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 09:33 pm
Very thoughtful postings to date...perhaps some others will drop by.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 09:44 pm
If you post it they will come, We missed you when you stopped Abuzzin.
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bandylu2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 09:50 pm
Ditto what Joanne said, mapleleaf. Glad you're here.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 09:52 pm
I wanted to vote but the option I wanted (indifferent and waiting for New Years and Carnaval) was not available. :-(
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 09:57 pm
I'm an in-betweenish sort, myself. I liked Christmas, sure, but it wasn't a Big Deal. My dad's Jewish, and my mom's erstwhile something (ack I've forgotten -- Methodist, that's it, Methodist), and so there was never much of a religious component, and we were poor, but not Dickensianly so like some of the posts thus far -- I got a bit, it was nice, but I probably liked Halloween more.

With the kiddo it's shaping up to be more of a Big Deal. She loves Christmas carols (yes, I sing them to her -- she's all sparkly-eyed and dancy, bless her heart, but y'all would NOT want to listen in) and is very enamored of Christmas trees and Santa. And she has three sets of grandparents (my parents are divorced) who contribute a mountain of presents all by themselves. We're just giving her a plastic play workbench set that I got at a garage sale for $5 this summer. It is so cool, though -- has about 50 different tools, and places for them to go, and screws, and nails, and a tool belt, and everything. I told the grandparents what to get, though, and it's literally like 5 major items each. Oy.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 09:59 pm
I tried to do a third option (two times). It never took hold...I don't know whether it was me or the system...really...of course, I am not perfect...my wife laughs at me all the time. : )
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bandylu2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 10:02 pm
I know it sounds corny, but Christmas is all about the children. They make it so much more fun. I can remember when my son was 18 months old and not really talking, but understanding everything. We 'read' a book about Santa together and he started acting it out -- going to the fireplace and peeking up the chimney and then pretending to be Santa with a bag over his shoulder. He took his imaginery bag to the tree and unloaded imaginery presents. It was totally precious and he was kind enough to repeat the whole thing for his Dad when he came home from work.

And then they grow up and it's still nice, but not as nice as when they were little and full of awe and wonder. Can't wait for grandkids.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 10:06 pm
Pearl Jam "Let me Sleep" - lyrics
Pearl Jam "Let me Sleep"

Cold wind blows on the soles of my feet
Heaven knows nothing of me
I'm lost, nowhere to go
Oh, when I was a kid...oh, how magic it seemed
Oh, please let me sleep, it's Christmas time

Flowered winds was where I lived
Thought you burned, not froze for your sins
Oh, I'm so tired, and cold
Oh, when I was a kid...oh, how magic it seemed
Oh, please let me sleep, it's Christmas time
Oh...oh, when I was a kid...oh, how magic it seemed
Oh, please let me sleep, it's Christmas time

Oh...oh, when I, if I was a kid...oh, how magic it seemed
Oh, please let me dream, it's Christmas time

---------------

Christmas lost ALL it's magic for me when I had my first summer christmas.

Seeing palm trees and coconuts mixed with fake snow and Santas killed Christmas for me.

Atheism helped at a later date too.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 11:14 pm
Craven, maybe if you divorce Christmas from Christianity you will start to enjoy it again...

(from Mid-Winter Night's Eve - YULE)
Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we Pagans celebrate the 'Christmas' season. Even though we may prefer to use the word 'Yule', and our celebrations may peak a few days BEFORE the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, caroling, presents, Yule logs, and mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting up a 'Nativity set', though for us the three central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course.

In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan than Christian, with it's associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility rites, and Roman Mithraism. That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin abhorred it, why the Puritans refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it (to them, no day of the year could be more holy than the Sabbath), and why it was even made ILLEGAL in Boston!
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 12:10 pm
I voted for "joyous" though I'm more of a moderate than an extremist. I do tend toward joy than sadness this time of year, but I do get sad a little.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 12:22 pm
Piffka,

It's not just Christianity in Christmas I dislike. It's everything with the exception of a few of the songs and the food.

Christmas is a family holiday and boring to a fault. I prefer alcohol holidays like New Years Carnaval and the like.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 10:00 pm
I have actually never heard of the term alcohol holidays. What a concept! Oh yes, getting totally smashed and drunk is NOT boring. Hah.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 10:01 pm
well, piffka, it isn't to some <sigh>
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 10:09 pm
At some point it will become boring, I think.
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Misti26
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 10:24 pm
I have to agree with Craven ... I look forward to Christmas being over, at least the commercialism of it, and on with the New Year, which I love.

Christmas alas, has always been a sad time of the year for us growing up, and since my girls are grown.

Things have improved a great deal for me around this time of year, and I do make the best of it now, but for the most part, it's a sad time, not only for the poor and the homeless, but the greed and the lack of respect for the Holiday is very upsetting. The stores would stay open 8 days a week, if they could, without any regard for the employees and their families.

I say bring on the champagne and the New Year, I'm celebratin'!!!
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