A Christmastime evolution
Every family has their own holiday traditions. Some travel to visit relatives, some stay home and some do nothing at all. It depends on your preferences, and I've started to notice a shift in the way even my own family celebrates Christmas each year.
I'd say I grew up adhering to relatively standard holiday traditions. Each year I'd visit Santa Claus at the Town Hall; I'd recite one or two lines in the pageant at church; and I enjoyed tearing open presents on Christmas morning. It was as status quo as any other kid growing up in the Midwest, I imagine.
My family had their own special holiday traditions as well. We'd head over to my grandparents on Dec. 24 for Christmas on my mom's side, then we'd go to Christmas on my dad's side the next night. Sandwiched in between was Christmas at our own house. We'd open presents, enjoy an omelet brunch around 10:30 a.m. and sip mimosas throughout the morning (sparkling grape juice and OJ for me and my sister).
However, things gradually started to change over the years. We no longer had a large celebration at my grandparents' house each Christmas Eve, as my cousins began starting their own families with their own traditions. Gradually, I lost interest in Santa and quit buying the spiel around age 9 as well. To top it all off, my parents opted to forego the annual trip to the tree farm in favor of an artificial one, which never quite sat well with my sister and I.
It seemed Christmas and its traditions had lost some of their glimmer, and the holiday fell into somewhat of a lull for me for a brief while. I just simply lost track of what made the season so special, but all that's turned around in recent years.
I credit nobody other than my niece and nephew for my turnaround. These two youngsters have reinvigorated a sense of childhood amusement about Christmas within me, and it's extended to nearly every facet of the holiday in recent years.
First and foremost, Santa Claus is very real once again. My nephew was quick to tell me last year that he needed to be nice to his little sister or else he wouldn't get any presents. His younger sister was a little less versed in Christmastime lore, but she knew right away who packed all the unwrapped presents underneath the tree last Christmas Eve.
"Santa!" she shrieked when I asked her who brought her a Minnie Mouse toy.
It's simply just fun watching a young child get so excited over Christmas. I really look forward to gift-opening time, but not for my own selfish purposes. Seeing my niece and nephew rip into presents brings back my own visceral memories of tearing up wrapping paper as a child. Whether it was a Power Ranger or Play Dough set, I couldn't wait to see what was next. Now, I can't wait to see what they get next.
Finally, these two kids got me thinking about the real reason for the season. My nephew was in his first pageant last year and he reminded me on Christmas Eve that it was Jesus' birthday tomorrow. He couldn't quite get through his short line at the play that night, but I think he might this year. Another year older, another year braver.
Christmas has sort of reverted back its glory days of my youth now that I think about it. My sister and brother-in-law bought my grandparents' house, and we restarted the tradition of hosting a Christmas Eve get together there. We go to the Christmas pageant, and Santa once again graces us with his presence, even though it's not for me anymore. The tree is still fake, but I guess you've got to pick your battles.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas surrounded by the ones you love. It’s a special time of the year, and I hope all of you appreciate the time spent with family and friends
Nick Pedley is the editor of the Hampton Chronicle, The Sheffield Press and Pioneer Enterprise.