My mother was a major influence on my enjoyment of the December festivities. She loved all the schmaltz and corniness, and loved making the holiday season memorable for us.
She did all the above on a VERY limited budget. She saved out of the household budget, took advantage of sales and layaways, and sewed, baked, and crafted with a vengeance. She sang Christmas carols, delighted in the umpteenth re-play of corny commercials, songs, and Christmas specials. And, for us kids, attendance at Christmas Mass was non-negotiable. My father sometimes drove us on really cold days, but, whether or not he was available, we all went. Only during my younger brother and sister's early childhood did my mother occasionally miss church - in Cleveland during those years, the weather was particularly brutal, and she feared illness caused by slogging through snow and ice.
I love the really corny, commercial songs of the season:
- Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
- The Drummer Boy
- Jingle Bells
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
as well as the religiously-based and traditional:
- Adeste Fideles
- Joy to the World
- Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel!
- Silent Night
- Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
- Do You Hear What I Hear?
- What Child is This?
and many, many more.
Some this Christmas are not so fortunate; they are far from home. Among those are the many military men and women who serve overseas. Nothing will make up for missing the time with their families, particularly those who have young children.
I remember not having my dad with us for many Christmases; as a junior employee, he often had to work that day at the phone company; occasionally, he volunteered as a way of getting that extra holiday pay. In my early years (pre-school), he was working outside, on the lines. It was important work - he kept essential services in communication, and he made a call home possible for many. Cleveland, OH was not known for its gentle weather, and phone lines experienced the usual trouble during icy, snowy storms.
But, that work meant that Mother and Dad had to wake us early; he left well before 7 am, in order to catch a city bus on a holiday schedule. So, they would wake us at 5:30 for a short time with Dad before he had to leave for work. Mom laughed at how foggy-eyed we were that early; we struggled to keep awake, as they tempted us with presents to open. Within a very short time, we opened gifts, ate breakfast, and, gratefully returned to be for a few hours sleep, before waking to play with the new toys.
Today, we are able to travel for an extended time to visit family far away. I've enjoyed watching the grandkids (3, 5, and 15 years), and visiting with my children. Thanks to those who serve, I can do so without fear of attack by anti-Christian terrorists. Many around the world cannot.
Merry Christmas, and may all the world move in the direction of true peace (not just a temporary truce).