The Ghosts of Christmases Past


I just love Christmas time! I anticipate the fun that the holiday season brings all throughout the year.   When I see something special, I think to myself, “Oh, that would be good to serve at Christmas.” Or, “ That would be perfect for Johnny at Christmas.”    

I think that Christmas is so special to me because of all the wonderful memories I have of Christmases past, beginning with my childhood. But when I reflect more intensely on past Christmases, I see how much things have changed. Some things so gradually that we almost don’t notice the changes.   For example, just something as basic as the Christmas wrapping paper. I remember always finding boxes in which to wrap the presents. Wrapping boxes of all sizes and shapes is definitely an art form. Today, put it in a gift bag, stick in some tissue paper, and it’s ready for under the tree.

And the tree… The tree at my house had shiny icicles hanging individually from each branch. My mother insisted on the careful placement of each hanging shiny strip. Later, after I was no longer living at home, about the first week of each December, I’d get a phone call from my father. He’d say, “Well, honey, I think your mother and I will stay together for another year. We got the Christmas tree up!” Which meant that they had survived all the related Christmas tree bickering!

There is no doubt that today’s Christmas shopping is more efficient and less taxing than the shopping of Christmas past.

But I LOVE lugging bags and parcels from store to store. It gives me a sense of accomplishment as I gather more and more to carry. I feel like I have done the shopping, by gosh! I realize that I am in a distinct minority here when I say that I still love to actually go to the stores. I like the entire activity of shopping: the searching, the browsing, the finding, the comparing, and the purchasing of the gift.

Now that I think of it, even that is probably a product of my childhood because one of my favorite memories is Christmas shopping with my dad.   Oh no, he was not a good shopper.   He only shopped for one person – my mother – so the activity was very special. He and I would go to Thalheimer’s or Davis Department Store and get a gift for my mother. One important purchase. Then he would say, “Well, I think it’s time for a chocolate nut sundae, don’t you?” And we would head to Farmer’s Dairy or Sam’s Gourmet and enjoy the treat. When we finished, we’d go home, completely satisfied with our shopping trip. To this day, part of my shopping excursion is allowing myself a treat while taking a break.

Not too long ago, a childhood friend and I took the time to walk through the beautiful Broyhill Offices and Suites where Forsyth Magazines is located. We remembered it as our elementary school. One of our most distinct memories was the annual Christmas Pageant produced each year with all of the students. Each grade level had an important part. The 7th and 8th graders stood on the stage on either side of the Nativity tableaus. They sang the most songs as each tableau would correspond with the carol being sung. The middle grades would stand on the side and in the hallways and sing. Then the primary students would process in while everyone was singing, “O Come Little Children.” Honestly, I still remember the words to the songs we were required to memorize. When my friend and I visited recently, we could not believe how short the aisle was. We remembered it as being very long! Perspectives change.

As a Baby Boomer, I have a foot in both the past and the present when it comes to Christmasy things. My feeling is that we should hold on to some of those traditions and practices while enjoying some of the improvements and the progress of today.  

I wish for you and yours a happiest of holiday seasons….at THIS moment in time!