My whole life I have heard that line every Christmas season. The famous Virginia of a Christmas past who wrote to the NY Sun newspaper asking whether there was a Santa Claus. While the response was historic, the line I love is “Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias”.
This year, this Virginia is looking at Christmas past, present and future. The past spent in the home of my parents born of another country in simpler times, unaccustomed to the frivolity and commercialism of the Christmas season of today. My brother and I were given one gift each (not one from each person, just one gift) and were forced by my father to wait until 5 pm on Christmas day before we were allowed to open it. I suppose it was to teach us to be patient. It didn’t.
That Christmas past was much different than the one with my own family filled with lots of decorations and new traditions. For years, we started the season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving by driving to a tree farm to cut down our tree. My husband and I would have this non-sensical argument about what size tree we should have (I envisioned one comparable to Rock Center while Tony favored the love starved Charlie Brown ones). Sometime during December, we would invite friends for a traditional white elephant holiday gift exchange party giving me the chance to dazzle my friends with Armenian specialties while exchanging gifts that you would roll your eyes at. It seemed to work because they came back every year and with the same junky gift they got the year before. Then on Christmas day, the kids would get up at some early morning hour to open gifts. I have days of reminiscing looking at pictures of when our front lawn was decorated with Santa and wooden soldiers reminding me of when the kids still believed in miracles.
Christmas today is with a tree that comes out of a box and decorations that are from Crate and Barrel. The Christmas morning sound of kids running through the house has been replaced by just my husband and I exchanging gifts, preparing the meal and anticipating the kids and family to arrive. This year, we have our grandson and while he doesn’t know Christmas yet, he will and will add to the excitement of the season.
As time goes on, things and feelings change. I remember as my aunts’ aged, they passed up holidays to be alone within the quiet and comfort of their home rather than in the hustle of the day. It seemed strange to me then, but not anymore.
I always want to be in the hustle of the day, but if I don’t, I hope my family understands. I hope I always have these White Elephant parties but one year, I probably will give it up. Mostly, I hope my kids and their family will always be happy throughout their lives and love Christmas. If one year they aren’t feeling it, I hope they look fondly on the memories of the Christmas’ past and look to make changes for a better one next year.