Now what could I possibly say about Christmas that hasn’t already been said. That said, there is no denying that for most of us, the holiday marks a special meaning to us each. For me, that meaning lies in the togetherness of family & friends and the continuation of traditions that make the time truly special and memorable…Christmassy!
I always remember the Christmas that I was 6 and still living in that magical period where I believed in the enchanting fantasy of Father Christmas. That particular year, I had really wanted a wheelbarrow, a kid one! I feel it necessary to add that, to this day, I have no idea what possibly motivated me to want one…but alas, I was a kid and I’m sure I must have had really good reasons at the time! Anyways, my Mom and Pop assured me on Christmas Eve, that because I was such a good kid, (and really, I always was!) Father Christmas himself, was going to deliver my wheelbarrow, amongst some other presents that very night. Naturally, I went to bed in the best of moods and with the hope that I may just stay awake long enough to witness the delivery in person.
Being only 6, I guess it was inevitable that I fell asleep, but luckily or rather unluckily for me, that night I was awakened by a sound…Could it be Santa, I wondered! Suddenly I was filled with excitement, as I thought for the first time in my life, I may have not slept through the arrival of Father Christmas! Overjoyed, I got out of bed without even checking my hair (which lets face it, one shouldn’t dream of doing nowadays) and ran straight down the passage, into the lounge, where the Christmas tree was up and sparkling…and there was my Dad, dressed in his PJs, a little bit tipsy from his nightcap, strategically placing gifts around the tree, and he didn’t even have the decency to wear a fake Santa outfit in doing so!
Suffice to say, my Pop was and still is the worst liar, and so he couldn’t even come up with a quick enough excuse to quell my obvious suspicion; and in his defense, I was a pretty smart kid, and was most certainly able to recognize a charade (or should I say, lack thereof) when it was staring me in the face! After about a minute or so of me staring intensely at my father, and he looking back and forth from me to the unmistakably wrapped wheelbarrow, fumbling for the right words to explain his way out of it; we both came to the same realization…’I no longer believed that the presents under the tree were from Santa Clause, nor that you had to be well-behaved in order to receive them’.
Admittedly, I wasn’t too crushed by the whole thing, for as much as I loved the notion of getting presents from a fat, red-clothed, white-bearded, ho ho ho’ing man who rode a magical, reindeer-driven sleigh; I was also a bit skeptical about having such a man in the house! That probably stemmed from the fact that I was incredibly mature for my age, or so, I’ve always been told. Besides, what was there to be sad for, I had still gotten what I wanted, my very own wheelbarrow, which was green if anyone was wondering; and I also discovered that presents were given to us by none other that our dear folks, and so really, it didn’t matter if you behaved or not!
Nevertheless, in the few Christmases that came thereafter, I went along with the whole thing for the benefit of my little brother, and I have to admit that it was great fun, indulging his beliefs by staring out at the stars before bedtime, trying to trace the sky for a hint of Santa on his sleigh. The whole exercise, almost made me believe again! But ofcourse, in time and without the help of my dad, might I add, my little brother eventually outgrew the childhood belief as well.
Now that I’m older and have for the first time put this memory of mines onto paper so to speak, I suddenly realise that for a man that doesn’t really exist, Mr. Santa Clause, imagined or not, has helped to shape my beliefs and experience of Christmas in its totality. My belief in the man helped me to recognize the joy that comes with receiving gifts during this festive time. My realization that the man is nothing but a story used to inspire the ‘Magic of Christmas’ into the hearts of children the world-over, fortified that that joy is actually because of your family and friends, your loved-ones, who, let’s face it, know you far better than some fat guy from the North Pole. And while Christmas traditions, like most traditions, may evolve and change, like fashion but not exactly so! The one tradition that will always remain the same is the joy of family and friends gifting each other…no matter how sucky some gifts may be…apparently, it is the thought that counts!
My other favourite traditions during this festive time include:
- Putting up our tree together as a family on Christmas Eve, which generally turned out disastrous when we were younger, much to my mothers distaste!
- Then ofcourse, having my mom redecorate it all over at the end.
- Watching the Christmas-stealing antics of Jack Skellington and the rest of Halloween Town’s misfits in Tim Burton’s, ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve.
- Hearing, reading or watching the story of how Scrooge went from ‘Bah!’ & ‘Humbug!’ to ‘A merry Christmas to you!’ in Charles Dickens’, ‘A Christmas Carol’. The same applies to Dr. Seuss’ ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’.
- Sparing a thought for the ‘Little Match Girl’ and the plight of Gerda on her quest to find Kay in ‘The Snow Queen’.
- Watching Christmas Specials on TV on Christmas morning…I really do love Mr. Bean’s Christmas with Teddy and that massive turkey which becomes his headpiece; plus slamming the door on those carolers, priceless! Also, not forgetting the ‘Home Alone’ movies.
- Indulging in a Christmas family feast…My mom’s delicious stuffing for the bird, absolutely yummy!
- And ofcourse, celebrating the day in honour of the Baby Jesus, and the significance of his birth!
All in all, Christmas for me is a fashion that comes along once every year, shrouded in memories of old…some that bring a smile to your face, like my dad and the wheelbarrow, and watching the stars with my little brother; some that make you sad, like remembering those who are no longer with us, like my grandpa who nevertheless lives on in memory; and some that are bittersweet, like the one year I was very little and was convinced we may just have a white Christmas, but ofcourse it never snowed, and it never does, because this is Durban! But apart from embracing old traditions and indulging in those beloved old memories, Christmas is also a time for making new ones…ones to add to that continually growing box of Christmassy delights.
This year we have a puppy for the first time in my entire life and his first Christmas with us has already been one to remember! Lets just say, it was quite a workout keeping him out of the kitchen, what with all of the aromas that were being cooked up in there. That said, I can only hope that your Christmas was as blessed and as memorable as mines…
Happy Christmas my friends!