"Lead on!" said Scrooge. "Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!" ~ A Christms Carol.
I was a gullible child. I believed it all: tooth fairies; fairies of all types & sizes; Santa Claus; Rudolph's nose; flying reindeer; other, parallel worlds. Nothing was too strange or far~fetched for my belief.
My mother has a knack for truly making things around her beautiful & so our house was always decorated for the season. She spent hours handcrafting decorations, creating nibbles & making the pudding ~ which though I never ate it I always stirred for luck while holding my nose against its fruity richness.
My family are Queenslanders through & through. We lived in Sydney, on the wrong side of the border. There was no extended family for Christmas ~ ever. My father, a pilot, was invariably working Christmas Day & my mother refused to let us so much as peek at anything until he arrived home. Christmas Day was often very delayed in our house.
My mother is a list maker, a woman of routine & predictability. No matter the levels of excitment there was order & things were done in a calm & seemly manner ~ starting with breakfast. Then we almost invariably headed off to early church. Everyone else always seemed to have been up for hours & opened all their presents already. We were still in a pother of anticipation, the stockings stuffed & sitting under the tree, wonderful & tantilizing boxes scatterd unopened. Delayed gratification. It is an important lesson to learn.
Even when my father arrived home we had to wait while he changed out of his uniform, poured himself a glass of Christmas Cheer & prepared to play Santa Claus because we were never ever allowed to dive at the pile of presents searching for our things & rip, tear, bust through everything. Things were handed out one at a time. We each got to see & admire each others gifts & share in their excitment. It was prolonged & orderly. A good thing because we were not a particularly well off family when I was little. Comfortable, but not rolling.
Our Christmas tree was a live minature pine. For 11 months of the year it grew in a pot beside the front door. The week before Christmas it was dragged indoors & strewn with lights & baubles & tinsle streamers. Stockings were pegged to the pot's rim. The Nativity scene came out. The days grew hot & languid. School let out. The anticipation mounted. I remember.
I am not my mother. Organisation is not my forte. I do not cope well with hordes of demented children screaming through my house. We always, always, kept Christmas low key. Ours have never been allowed to just get up & rip into things. They have been made to wait until everyone is up. Star has had it worst. By the time she came along the rest were of an age to appreciate sleep more than presents! We have gone to church, read scriptures, eaten a nice meal, shared some treats, remembered the whole reason for Christmas was the Cross.
I no longer believe in flying reindeer. Rudolph's nose does not glow *like a lightbulb*. Male reindeer lose their antlers in autumn so all Santa's reindeer must have been female ~ & though some wit has remarked we should have known that 'cause only women could manage an around the world trip delivering presents in one night! The logistics, the logistics...., female reindeer aren't designed for pulling sleighs. Christ was not born on December 25th.
The world has turned. Christmas has become so commercialised it is almost unrecognizable as the celebration of my childhood. I hear far more about how much the big shops have made in profit than I do about the King of Kings & Lord of Lords. Christianity has lost followers at an alarming rate. Disbelief & scepticism rule the day. The grog is coming over by the truckload. So very quietly, one step at a time, we are retreating from the worldly rush & babble, from the desperate consummerism, & recentering ourselves.
There are things that are important to us as a family that we wish to address more deeply. So while I know Hannukah has been & gone this year I have taken some Jewish wisdom. There is nothing wrong with celebrating per se. I do have issues with all the pagan elements but that's me. We are not calling it Chritmas ~ where is the mass in Christmas? I am not putting up a tree or doing cards. We are not doing anything except attend church & have a nice meal on the day itself but all this week we are focusing on the Light coming into the world. We are giving gifts, small necessary things ~ one for each person each night. We are doing the coloured candles & the coloured candy. We are preparing because Dino & I want to start the new year with a 21 day fast & there is no way that will happen easily if we have been absolute gluttons over Christmas. So...
I am being intentional in my celebrations this year. It is hard. I am not an intentional person. I tend to wing it. With the rest of the world going crazy we are trying to remain sober & restrained. And we plan on having a jolly good time while we do it!