Friday, December 27, 2013

Ordering memories from the catalogue

Once again, Christmas day has come and gone.
And once again traditions took centre stage as people throughout the land re-enacted Yuletide festivities like they have for generations.
My grandparents were from ‘the old country,’ as my grandma always called it, so our tradition was to open presents on Christmas eve.
This had many advantages growing up. I could call my friends and tell them what I got several hours before they even went to bed. They had to wait until the morning to discover what wrapped wonders awaited them.
A tradition my family never did was the Santa thing and I would often dismantle my friend's belief in St. Nicholas for my own fun and amusement.
I suppose it was mean to crush their dreams that some fat guy would sneak into their homes once a year and deliver a bunch of presents, but I was a kid and kids do stuff like that.
I simply pointed out Santa must have ordered from the Sears catalogue because the stuff he provided was identical to the store-bought goods.
That catalogue was as much a Christmas tradition as eggnog and wrapping paper.
There was no Internet or online shopping back then, but there was the Sears Christmas Wish Book. What a great day it was when the glossy paged book of dreams was dropped off on the front stoop. It usually turned up in the fall, so all us youngsters would have plenty of time to leaf through the pages and make agonizing decisions as to what we wanted to ask ‘Santa’ to bring us.
I would spend hours looking at the pages of toys, that is when I could wrest the book from the evil clutches of my two sisters who wasted the book by looking at dolls and frilly things.
Without that worn out, tattered and much-loved book, we would have no idea what was out there to select from.
My own children used to look at the catalogue, but now they go online to find suggestions for their own Yuletide indulgences (which has become their  Christmas gift-shopping tradition.)
That book was a big part of my youthful Christmas experience and one I remember fondly, but in life things change.
When I wed my lovely bride 25 years ago, Christmas changed from the evening of Dec. 24 to bright and early Dec. 25 as she wanted to hold a more traditional North American Christmas like she grew up with.
When we would spend Christmas with my parents, the old days would return and I would once again tear open packages on the Eve, but when it was just the wife and I and then when the kids started arriving, Christmas morning was where all the action was.
This was foreign to me and for a long time I did not really understand it. To me, it made much more sense to open your presents the night before, then the kids would be able to sleep that night and I would not have to get up at such a Grinch-like hour.
The morning Christmas event did create some traditions such as the annual interaction with my children when they came bounding in to our bedroom, full of the energy only the biggest day of the year could bring. As I would every Dec. 25 for many years, I would look at the clock and with all the sweetness and Christmas cheer I could muster, I would look at my young ones and say, “Go back to bed, it’s four in the morning.”
Eventually we established a rule Christmas was not to be celebrated a minute before 6 a.m., and since that agreement, the children have been bounding in to our room at precisely six and dragging us out of bed.
My family had a good Christmas this year, full of fun, happiness and love. Which really is the best part of Christmas, no matter how early you have to get up.

No comments: