Biographical Non-Fiction posted December 25, 2017

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Why do we celebrate Christmas.

The Season's Reason

by aryr

Christmas is a joyous time of the year for a large percentage of the population regardless of location. Although it has now become politically correct to use 'Season Greetings' and to have a 'seasonal party or gathering', it is still a joyous time.

I have many friends who are of different cultures and beliefs, who are still respectful of those who partake. I have an equal if not larger number of friends who do partake. For some of those it seems to have become a contest of who can outdo who. Which house has the most lights and decorations? Who has the biggest tree? Who has provided family and close friends with the biggest or most expensive gifts?

From my childhood I remember that, the houses were decorated from top to bottom with colorful outdoor lights. Outside trees whether the Christmas type or not were also strung with lights. Creative families would wrap large boxes that of course were empty, topped with gigantic bows and place them outside. Now one must remember that this was many years before inflatable outdoor decorations or wire reindeer etc. Wreaths were hung on the door and in every window that faced the street. Sometimes large red bows were used instead of wreaths.

Christmas trees were usually placed in the living room in front of the window. This placement allowed it to be seen both inside and outside. They were covered with every color of ornament and a great many were ones that were constructed by children as they grew. The lights were multicolored and in most cases were non-blinking. The blinking gadget cost extra and for the time were rather expensive. The simple trees had homemade popcorn strings- that was a fun time. It was like picking berries, two for the tummy and one for the tree. Fancy trees had garland strings in red, gold, silver or any combination of these. However, regardless of one's income or status, the Christmas tree always had tinsel, tons of tinsel.

The interior was also Christmastized (if that can be considered a word). Stair rails were wrapped in garland and sometimes lights. Center pieces were made for every table. Mantels were home to nativity figurines. And the various doors were covered with received Christmas cards.

The kitchens started to smell of the scents of the season about the first of December. Cookies were constantly being made for some event at school or church. Fruit cakes were made ahead of time so they could age. I remember one that was jokingly passed from person to person over the years unopened. The last count was 69 years. The houses smelled of cinnamon, allspice, sugar cookies as a prelude to Christmas turkey and dressing or a glazed ham.

Christmas in my home as a child was always for the children. The adults would receive a token gift, but the children received several. The gift giving definitely included a couple of items of clothing and of course the touques , the mittens and scarves. Then there were the fun gifts-the games, the requested toys, the bicycles, the skates, the toboggans.

There was a magic age when one grew from the children group to young adult; but it varied from family to family. Our magic number was twelve. Anyone over twelve no longer got the multitude of presents. It was customary to have two or three items of clothing plus a Christmas card with cash. Yep, that cold, hard, spendable stuff. It was rather ideal. Now, of course, we had to wait until the next day to go shopping but we could buy what we wanted, not necessarily what we needed but what we wanted.

Initially I did not attend a church due to my preschool living experience, but once we moved to the city I became a church member and enjoyed Sunday school classes. I learned a lot about the bible and the beliefs related to it.

As I grew older I noticed many things that were contradicted in what I learned but the one that was constant and Christmas related was the fact that for a lot of people it was the only time that they remembered that Jesus was reportedly born on Christmas day.

The years went by and I married and became a mother. I was of a different belief but still maintained that Christmas was for the children. I had decided that since I would never force my beliefs upon my children and their father was a devoted Anglican, that Christmas would be celebrated for their sake. My only stipulations were that I did not expect nor did I wish for any gifts- the exceptions were the ones made by my children either in school or homemade; the other I will leave for later in the story.

The normal Christmas events filled my home. Decorations were hung, strung and set up. The tree was decorated in a rather rustic way. Outdoor ornaments were a delight to both the children and my husband and seemed to grow in number each year. Carols were enjoyed. Spiced cider with a touch of rum for the adults or eggnog or hot chocolate were customary drinks.

I continued to notice the missing link. Many times I would ask myself and sometimes even aloud. Why are we doing Christmas? Where was Jesus? Sure, everyone got the message at church service that Jesus was born and to give thanks. Christmas dinner was always preluded by a prayer of grace and again Jesus' birth was acknowledged.

Christmas had become commercialized. The boxes under the tree so gayly wrapped with fancy bows were more important that the reason behind the celebration. More important than even family. Christmas had fallen into the 'ME' syndrome. Children tended to be eager to tear open the gifts addressed to them. All they saw was their name and didn't bother to see who it was from or even remember to thank that person with more than an over the shoulder thanks.

For the younger children the hero of the day was Santa and his reindeer, you know-Donner, Comet, Blixen, Rudolph. I also noticed that each year, the age of those who no longer believed in Santa seemed to be younger. I was actually waiting for the day when Santa was not needed.
Thankfully the same companies that rely on sales have maintained Santa through the parades and television specials. Now mind you this is all being done for sales. Encouraging children to request this toy, that video game, other electronics and lets not forget the perfumes for mom and grandma or the tools for dad or grandpa and let's not forget the novelty sweaters, hats, gadgets.

Schools and churches were becoming politically correct. This is of course well understood given the vast variety of cultures and beliefs in any nation.

But for me, I felt it was necessary to continue a tradition that I had learned from strangers rather than family many many years ago. I grew up insisting that it became part of our family Christmas celebration. I have shared it with many friends, who have chosen to continue as have my children and their children. It was a simple way to put the reason for the season back in Christmas.

A small simple single layer cake is made and the only decoration is "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS" and one candle is lit. The youngest child at dinner has the honor to blow out the candle after everyone sings Happy Birthday to Jesus. Everyone has a small piece of cake and for that few minutes the real reason for Christmas is remembered.

It certainly doesn't hurt to remember to say thank you in your own way each and every day to whatever deity you believe in. Blessed be.

Christmas Story contest entry

Thank you to Dick Lee Shia for the artwork- The Reason For The Season
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Dick Lee Shia at

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© Copyright 2018. aryr All rights reserved.
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