Monday, December 19, 2011

The Season

The Christmas Season brings many different emotions and questions for me. What was it like for the people before television and commercials? What was it like before? Always before? I ask those questions when I get stressed around Christmas.
When I lived in the United States the best and my most favourite holiday was the American Thanksgiving. That was way before Black Friday. American Thanksgiving was family, food, and no need for presents. My mom and dad came to visit from Canada and I made dad his favourite pecan pie. There was no need to run out and go shopping after the day of food and family.
Right around Christmas I sound like Scrooge and I grumble about not liking Christmas. It happens every year since 2007. That year my brother had a really bad car accident and a massive heart attack. He's recovered but I guess I got scared. I also moved from my home where I raised my children after their father died and we moved back to Canada. I moved into a little one bedroom apartment the week after my brother's accident. My boys helped me and joked that they would only have to push me down the hall when I got older because the apartment building is attached to an old age home - really it is the Alzheimer's home I think. I told them when I got old I was moving where it was warm.
I worked so hard setting up my apartment and trying to get things for my family for Christmas I got sick. I spent the entire week of the holidays in bed except for taking the dog out for his walk. It was the flu and strep throat so I was down for the count. I missed Christmas but I didn't. There was no hustle, bustle, disappointment, excitement, or anything except a visit from my friends Deb and Don who brought me Christmas dinner in a take out and my sister Ginny and her son Burt who also brought me Christmas Dinner in a take out. The food stayed in the refrigerator for a few days til I could swallow.
What am I saying? I like the quiet and yet I like being around family. I like making my presents for people. I want to see everyone but I like seeing them in little bunches not the whole bunch at the same time. There are nine of us and I'm the oldest. My siblings go to mom's in groups because her house isn't big enough.
I go in the morning to help her with some of the little things, vegetables to be cooked, table to set, making sure that she has all things that she wants and likes for the family meal. And then I leave. My sister has already been over to mom's about four in the morning to put the turkey on to cook.
This year I will go and spend time with my aunt who lives in the retirement home. I've been looking after her and my uncle for the past number of years - about ten I think and this past March he passed away in the long term care side of that place. I want to be there for her and I because it is hard that first year of grieving especially during the holidays.
This weekend we went to Church on Saturday night for Carols and Lessons and to hear the bells that had been given to that special church by the Queen. And yesterday I drove her into Toronto to have dinner with her son Ron and her sister who is younger - 84. Those are different memories to add to my collection. Maybe this time next year I won't be asking what was it like before the commercialism - maybe it will be back to how it is supposed to be. Family and fun and food - along with the friends and their celebrations in their different ways.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post, Helen! I was lucky enough never to have *heard* of Black Friday until maybe ten years or so ago, when I had the astonishing bad luck to have an errand that seemed, at the time, to be most efficiently done on our drive home Friday after visiting relatives for T'giving. I thought the world had gone mad! I believe I've only set foot in a mall once or twice since that day. :)

    I share your ambivalence about the holidays. I've weathered some bad Christmases and I often feel overwhelmed this time of year. This is the first year I've really been feeling the spirit--and there might be a number of reasons for that, but I'm thinking it's mostly because this is the first year in a very long time that I've not tried to "minimize the impact." I've really spent time this year thinking about everyone I care about and how to honor that relationship and their presence in my life in some small way... that's been very pleasing.

    I like the idea of getting together in little bunches. Easier to focus on the quality time that way, I think. Your mother and aunt will be so pleased to have the time with you.

    Have you read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books? Those are the stories I always think--those and Dickens's Christmas stories--when I think about Christmas before commercialism. I know on our end, getting rid of cable has meant a dramatic reduction in the number of specific new toys Mister L. has requested! But he's been quite the dictator when it comes to art directing the stuffed animal he wants me to make for him for Christmas. "I SAID THE EARS HAVE TO BE PINK ON THE INSIDE!" ;o)