Whatever Happened To Christmas?

For me, Christmas passed by in a haze.  There were legitimate reasons, of course.  I had many hours of teaching work right up until the 23rd, and so had little time to contemplate much else.  Two of our sons got stranded in northern Europe in the midst of ice and snow, enroute to here, and the interim, during which we sought for ways to speed them on their ways, was exceedingly stressful – but it was more than that.  What it is, I’m not sure.

I’ve always been the Christmassy sort.  Not to the extreme, as some are, and I’ve never had much money to spend on it – but I look forward to it as a time of rest and peace.  I even like all the garish lights on the houses; energy wastage notwithstanding, they brighten up the otherwise drab city.  When I was young, growing up in a Catholic household, Christmas was a big deal indeed, with LPs of carols, stockings, a huge natural tree, piles of presents, plenty of food and drink, and of course the obligatory trips to mass that I eventually rebelled against.

Then, later, when I was on my own, details changed due to circumstances but I still retained that impression that something was special about it – and I must emphasize that that feeling had nothing to do with the commercial aspects of the holiday, which I did and do despise.  I think the most important aspect of Christmas that abides for me is the feeling of family.  It’s nice to get together with family at Christmas.  And at times when I was far away from any other relative – for example, one Christmas when I cooled my heels in Malaysia waiting for a visa to enter Thailand – the feeling was strongest of all because the longing for companionship gave it increased poignancy.

I have a large family, my father, four brothers and three sisters, and I miss them at Christmas.  They all live on the west coast of the US and here I am halfway around the world in Greece.  But this year some of my sons have come from their far wanderings, and we have a tree, and a few lights outside, and a few other trimmings, and yet – Christmas passed by in a haze.

Have I outgrown it?  I speak not as a Scrooge-type here.  My sons and I have fun together now that they are here, but we would have had similar fun at any other time.  And when I am alone, the most joyous occasions are when I am working on my latest project:  that is, proofreading and formatting and preparing covers for the stories in my recent collection, to put them up online as individual e-stories.

Times change.  What gives us joy this year may not do the same next year.  No matter.  Apart from the writing and the visits from my sons, what I most appreciate about the holiday this year is the chance to rest up and recharge my batteries for the balance of the school year yet ahead.  So be it.  Times change; people change.

Merry Christmas.

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