Christmases past were both joyous and heart-breaking.
As children, we would rush downstairs to see what Santa Claus had brought us, and secondarily what our parents and relatives had sent. We all liked the gifts from Santa the best as we didn’t have to write thank you notes to him. We’d merrily rip the paper off throwing it madly behind us as we checked out the package.
For all others though, we were not allowed to just rip off the pretty paper and dig in to see what the gift was…but we had to be “careful not to throw out the card” and then leave the card inside the package until our thank you notes were completed.
There would always be one child (usually me) that would “lose” one card, and the questioning would begin.
“where did you put it when you opened the package” “why don’t you know? It’s your package isn’t it?” “how can you be so stupid?”
On and on it would go until I was in tears. Then would come the inevitable “I’m going to GIVE you something to cry about!”, and the spanking would commence.
As I grew older, no one would rush madly to see what gifts we’d received. We’d get up, put on a robe or get dressed for the day, and all walk sedately downstairs to open gifts.
I’d take my baby sister’s hand and lead her down, and sit with her while she opened her gifts. I never wanted her to go through the “I’ll give you something to cry about”. I’d keep the cards from her gifts and write down on the back of the card exactly what was given. I’d help her write her thank you notes. I’d collect the wrapping paper and place it in a garbage bag…no one was going to ruin her Christmases.
I’d be “fussed” at each year for “taking so long to acknowledge your gifts”, but it was worth it to see her smiling face instead of tears. I cherish those memories of her happiness on Christmas day.
I hated being away from her after I got married. My parents had moved to a different state by then and I had no way to join them for the holidays. I prayed my sister was having a good holiday, but feared all of our Mother’s rage was directed at her. I felt so helpless each year.
My life was soon filled with my own children and trying to show them that Christmas was a good time…a time to reflect upon why we even had a Christmas and that giving of gifts was to honor the Christ who had received gifts.
Now that I am old, Christmas is just a time to put up lights so George is happy, and a day where we eat too much. Only one of my children believes in the sanctity of Christmas…the other is a skeptic like me. They are both comfortable in their beliefs, as am I. And no one argues or fusses anymore.
It has finally become a day of Peace.