©2017 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
When I was a boy, Christmas came once a year. For a week. As children, we waited, with abated breath, it seemed, forever. With much anticipation and excitement building, we waited for the winter holidays, the traditional Christmas concert, then the holidays, a few days free of school, time to build snowmen, play in mountains of snow, and go ice-skating. On real ice. Outside, on the driveway turned into a rink, on a real community rink down the road, or right down the bumpy ice on the Oliver Creek if it was frozen enough.
We thawed out and waited. We waited for Christmas Eve, and green and red-wrapped chocolates, sweet oranges from Japan, sparkling glass decorations and tinsel placed with care on an always-real Christmas tree. In vivid imaginations, visions of Christmas were brightly wrapped secrets, presents galore. Christmas cake. Sugar cookies. Twisted, rock-hard candy that looked like it was snipped with scissors, and candy canes striped like the North Pole where Santa lives.
We wondered how Santa drove the reindeer from the North Pole too, as we eagerly listened to George the Porter , Santa's helper broadcasting on the radio in *Fort William to see if Santa was making good time on Christmas Eve. We wondered how Santa could land on slippery, snow-covered steep roofs in the moonlight. How he ever squeezed down skinny chimneys safely. Into burning fireplaces. Without getting his white beard and eyebrows singed.
We wished for new, shiny hockey skates, hockey-sticks, and real shin-pads. Skis. New mitts. Stuff from the Eaton's and Simpson Sears catalogues. Folding jackknives with pearl handles. New boots. New bicycles. Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers belts, realistically-holstered noisy cap guns. Cowboy outfits for the boys. Sleighs, white figure-skates, dolls, ribbons and bows, new clothes, tiny furniture and dollhouses for the girls. Everything was to arrive overnight by special delivery from Santa. Imagine that, but only for a week.
And somehow, we knew what Christmas was really about. The birth of Christ.
Christmas NowZoom ahead decades. Too many decades. Now Christmas retailing begins on television right after Hallowe'en. And after Thanksgiving. And after Black Friday retailing madness. 50-70% off everything that was 70% overpriced all year. Profit. Business. Receiving instead of giving. Overspending. Paying the bills after the spending binge. The eternal headache of crowds of people in malls frantically searching endlessly for the perfect gift.
Is that what Christmas was intended to be? Is it politically-incorrect to remind others of faith and belief in Christ? The real reason for the season? The passing of traditions is painful, but declining faith, denial of faith, the reason for the season --is unbelievably sad. Ouch.
But have no fear, we can still have OUR faith and traditions of Christmas, and enjoy them too. Not because of, but in spite of —modern trends and unwanted social manipulation.
I know it's hard to remember why we have Christmas, it's not very trendy, but forget 'spending' and shopping for a moment. Ignore advertising and commercial profit. Reawaken the imagination. Return to the dreams we once had. Is it a bad idea to push aside 'retailing' hype for a few days and dream? No. Is it old-fashioned and selfish to wish a week of Christmas inherited from older, better times instead of four months of mind-numbing commercials? Wishful thinking? No. It is human nature to expect better.
Admittedly, we did not always receive the gifts imagined, the fancy toys coveted. Fact is, in reality, occasionally, in some tough economic times, we had few gifts at all. But no matter; we still dreamed. The excitement of the season was alive and genuine with home-made gifts, paper decorations, the love of family, friends, and neighbours and snowball fights and snow forts and igloos. The smell of fresh bread, pies, cookies and turkey baking early in the morning.
The anticipation and surprises we did find under quaint Charlie Brown Christmas trees (taller, we remember) made up for anything and everything. It was Christmas, after all, and we had music, excitement, love, visitors— and each other. Warm, crackling fires in the fireplace. Visions and imaginations unfulfilled were reserved for next year—and the ones after that. Immense and almost inexplicable satisfactory visions— for decades after that.
Peace of mind and faith for the future—are the solution. Don't forget some eggnog.
Merry Christmas everyone...big or small, Merry Christmas to ALL.
Is that Incoming I hear?
*Now 'Thunder Bay', Ontario