With Christmas now almost upon us, it’s only natural to reminisce of Christmases past. I can always remember when I was a young girl, my mom used to say to me, that as you get older the years will seem like they will go faster, so don’t wish your life away. For me, at the time, it did seem like a very strange saying. However, when you are young and just starting to grow up from a child into a teenager and then into an adult, it is the realization that these are actually true words of wisdom.
As a child, I looked forward to Christmas each year….it was always the sadness that when each Christmas was over, I couldn’t wait until the next one. But as a child, the year between each Christmas seemed to go so slow.
Over the last 30 plus years, it has been more noticeable that it seems that as you get through one Christmas, then the summer, that suddenly Christmas is upon us once again. You start to ask yourself the big question about just where has the last year gone.
The one thing I have noticed over a number of years is how people’s attitude towards Christmas has changed. There is no doubt about it, we are in a generation where new technology, and money has dramatically improved a lot of people’s lives, and so therefore a large percentage of ‘a younger generation/children’ have grown up with the ”I want” attitude.
With each passing year I have noticed an increase in the younger generations becoming more obsessed with wanting to do better each Christmas with their presents. Mobile phones, ipods and ipads, tablets and computers, Xbox and PS4 games and consoles, designer label clothes and so on. Not only this, expensive presents are more readily accessible throughout the year, not just at Christmas time. A new smart phone bought for a teenager this summer, according to them, will be out of date this December, and so will need to be updated to the very latest one this Christmas. Or a pair of designer Nike trainers, worn only half a dozen times, now look scruffy and outdated in their design.
I was born in the mid 1960’s and I grew up in the 70’s, and for those of my readers who are of the same age group as me, I’m sure you will remember that times were difficult, and I mean really difficult. If your parents worked in the car factory industry such as Rover Solihull or Longbridge, which were at the time the biggest employers in the Midlands, then likely as not they would be laid off from work or on strike near Christmas, so money would be extremely tight. In spite of all this I have always remembered my childhood Christmases with such fondness. One of my strongest memories was of my mom each year singing one particular song to me and my brother, and even now I still play the record every year around this time – The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forget – by Nat King Cole.
The money was not around back then, my parents always tried their hardest to do right for us each Christmas. New clothes, shoes (all non designer) but practical for the year ahead. Games such as Scrabble, Cluedo, Frustration and jigsaw puzzles, then there were vinyl records, audio cassettes. selection boxes and a ‘main present’ such as a portable transistor radio, or a cassette player, or a bicycle which would have to last at least for the next 5 years (depending on how much or how quickly you grow) I remember I had my one and only bike for Christmas when I was about 9 years old, and I had it for over 10 years, and I even took and passed my cycling proficiency test on it when I was about 12 years old. In the end I out grew it and it became battered and rusty, but I was so sorry to see it go, but we had to make room for something else in the garden shed.
But I have to say that our up bringing has made my brother and I more aware of what Christmas was all really about. Traditional values, as every year we had the school Christmas Carol Service, a reminder that without the birth of Christ there is no Christmas. Just before my 3rd birthday my mother passed away, and all I had was my older brother and my dad, but then a year and half later dad remarried and in doing so we became part of a big family.
For me, since I can remember, the special charm of Christmas was always about my entire family, the togetherness, doing the simple thing of putting up the tree and decorations, Sitting around the table for Christmas dinner, and then the big family get together on Christmas night, with my Aunties, Uncles and Cousins. On Boxing day watching some films together on television. Playing the games, doing a jigsaw together that we had as one of our Christmas presents.
It was, and for me still is, the very simple things about Christmas that made it special for me.
In recent years I have often had cause to doubt and challenge my own religious beliefs, and have even doubted on occasions the existence of Christ, and as I have got older and more of my family have passed away, or I have had to face so many major health issues including my depression, some how it has made me return to my faith, because what ever the bad things that have happened to me I have come out of it the other end, and it makes me realize just how much more important this time of year really is. It is not about expensive presents, it is not about what the t.v. adverts want to have you believe. I have been annoyed by companies like Curry’s PC World who advertise the great big up to the minute television screens and say ”that’s what Christmas is all about”. I am also annoyed at Sky TV advertising that Christmas is about the big football matches being seen on their channel, them also saying this what what Christmas is about. In this day and age it seems to be the thing to tell youngsters it is ok to tell them that this is what Christmas is all about. It reminds me of two of the the 7 deadly sins, greed and gluttony. If only Christmas was less complicated now as it was back then.
Christmas is a time to remember that it was time of the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and the journey of the Magi, also known as Three Wise Men who came bearing small but simple gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to celebrate his birth, in a small stable in the town of Bethlehem, and more importantly spreading the message of hope over fear, near and far.
It is important that future generations remember the reason of the existence of Christmas being a Holy celebration. To some it is just a story in a book called The Bible, there are those who doubt the story ever happened, and there are those who want to believe it is just a lot of nonsense. But for what ever reason that is why Christmas does exist, and for Christianity it is the most important date each year. It may just be a story book to some, but the Bible is the oldest and most fascinating book ever to exist, it has more versions than any other book in publication and has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As of September last year, the full Bible has been translated into 636 languages, the New Testament alone into 1442 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1145 other languages, and over 5 billion copies have been sold worldwide. But whatever the statistics are, it has and always will tell the same story and hopefully continue to give Christmas it’s true meaning.
This Christmas day it will be very difficult again, as it will be the second one without my dad. But at the same time, happy that I can spend it with my brother, sister-in-law, nephews and their girlfriends. It is good to have those happy memories from my childhood and teenage Christmases. I enjoy listening to a few old Christmas Carols, and songs, a couple of drinks to toast my family and friends present and past (fortunately I do not drive) and a couple of days just to relax and unwind from the recent work pressures and recharge my batteries whilst watching a couple of old movies. If the weather is decent, a long walk in my local park with my camera. What more could any one ask for at Christmas time?
This year has been yet another very difficult and tough year, and I have managed to come through it in one piece and that I have not lost any one dear to me. I have had my fair share of up’s and downs, but through it all I am very grateful and thankful to my family, friends including my new friends at work, and of course to God.
It is strange to think, that as I am sitting here writing my blog tonight, it is Saturday night and tomorrow will be Christmas Eve. But with all that in mind, I would like to wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas & Happy, Healthy New Year, and I do hope you can all make some very happy Christmas memories for yourselves this Christmas.
Oh happy days, the snow fell over-night,
we have a white Christmas in our sight.
Only a few more days and nights,
Christmas will shine bright of white.
Remember those beautiful Christmas Eves,
when we gathered round our colorful trees.
Remember when we caroled down the street,
sang Christmas songs oh so sweet.
Memories are precious let’s not forget,
don’t do anything you might regret.
Christmas is the time of year to share,
to treasure family far and near.
This Christmas with the lights shining bright,
reflecting God’s blanket of white.
Sing sweet songs in memory,
past Christmas’s history.
Poem by Melvina Germain
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