In my last blog, I wrote about the ways Christmas traditions have changed and evolved over the years. I will continue with that theme.

Christmas Lights:
This is still a tradition that starts very early in November for some. Children’s delight in Christmas lights and their fairy-like charm have not changed over the years. I remember taking each of my grandchildren when they were about two years of age to the mall to see the decorations. I will never forget their faces and their excitement as they pointed out to me each and every light.

The grandkids are older now and for them seeing Christmas lights does not hold the enchantment and wonder it once did. A discussion was held between Chuck and myself as to whether he would “drape” the outside lights this year. We came to the conclusion that he couldn’t be bothered getting them out of storage and I didn’t have the energy to put them away after the season. So, guess what – another tradition bites the dust.

Decorating the Christmas Tree:
I use to really enjoy doing this task. Ornaments were placed with a considerable amount of care and forethought. I wasn’t exactly anal about this job, but the tree did look quite nice when I was finished. As I started to age, my attitude changed and the tree was randomly decorated as I just wanted to get the damn job done. Deck the halls and hang the balls became less appealing.

With the arrival of the grandchildren, a new tradition was born. Christmas magic was reborn and so on the first weekend in December it became their job to decorate our tree. Chuck would arrange the lights and then the decorating task was left up to the children. I never added or moved an ornament. It was strictly their work of art. For the first few years, the bottom of the tree gleamed and shimmered with decorations and beads. The rest of the tree was pretty much naked and remained so for the holiday. Each year as the four grandkids grew taller, the amount of natural green decreased. This tradition gave me so much pleasure but alas it no longer exists.

Last year, 2020, we were in lock down at Christmas so a new way of doing things was brought about. Since we couldn’t go anywhere and we couldn’t have visitors, the idea of Christmas was rather bleak for a lot of people, us included. I decided that I would not decorate for the holidays plus there would be no tree. Why bother? Only Chuck and I would see them and besides the reasons stated above regarding the lights also applied here. I told Steven of this decision and he accused me of having lost the Christmas spirit. I said to him, “If you want spirit, in my next life, I will come back as a Christmas tree. Just think about it – the life of a Christmas tree. You only work three weeks of the year and the fatter you get, the more attractive you look. When people walk into the room you are instantly noticed. By just standing in a corner, you light up everyone’s life. All the presents are at your feet. Did you choose them, pay for them or wrap them? I think not, yet you get all the glory. You overhear comments such as, “What a gorgeous tree and look at all those marvelous presents.” What’s more, if you get tired and droopy, they give you a drink!” Steven was at a loss for words. Finding me a “home” is quickly moving up on his priority list.

But I did compromise. To prove to Steven and my sister that I wasn’t a Grinch, I put decorations on the mantel and I decorated my six-foot yucca plant. It looked quite festive! It has now become my new designated Christmas tree. You don’t have to assemble it, put it up or put it back in storage. A new tradition for me.

Remember when you actually went to the mall to buy your gifts. You would find a place to park in the back forty, drag yourself from store to store trying to find the perfect gift, then stand at the checkout as long as it took you to find the gift in the first place. When you got outside you did not have a clue where on earth you parked the car. You, plus two or three other shoppers, would go up and down the rows of cars pushing buttons on your keys praying your car would “speak” to you. Oh, the fun of shopping.

Well, thanks to COVID I no longer go through this rig-a-ma-roll. I ask for a list of ideas from everyone. I then pour myself a glass of wine, open my computer, buy on line, have it delivered to my house, stuff it in a gift bag and – voila, shopping and wrapping are done.

Christmas Cards:
If you are under forty you probably won’t know anything about the tradition of mailing Christmas cards and the Generation X group may have only vague memories around this event. Yes, this has become a senior’s activity and that is rather sad. For me there is still a thrill receiving those envelopes in the mailbox. But who can blame the young for abandoning this tradition. The speed along with little to no cost certainly tip the scales in favour of using all social media available over the slow, costly Canada Post way. I have always enjoyed sending out cards. In the past, I have spent as much time picking out the ‘right’ card for certain people as I have spent picking out the perfect gift for others. So, this is one old tradition I am hanging onto.

Traditions come and go but reaching out to family during the holidays whether it is in person, seeing them by way of Zoom or FaceTime or by talking to them on the telephone is the one custom I hope never changes. I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday with your loved ones.