Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I love Christmas so much

Christmas in NY 2008

If you've ever been around me during the holiday season, you know I love to go all out (especially for Christmas!). Though some might say that celebrating Christmas, or the secular aspect of it, is superficial and insignificant--I don't believe that things like Christmas trees and nativity sets are bad, as long as you remember what Christmas is all about and that those objects aren't the only things that make your Christmas joyful.

I associate Christmas with happy times in my life, as most of us do. But the funny thing is, I learned to appreciate Christmas as an adult in a whole new light when it occurred to me that all those Christmases weren't quite so happy, just cleverly disguised as so.

One year, when my mom was single and raising me on her own, she was fired from her job on Christmas Eve. She didn't tell me at all. At this time, things were pretty tough financially, but she always hid it well and didn't tell me about our struggles until I was a lot older. There were times we got by on credit. I had no idea that my mom was struggling so much to make ends meet, and putting me through private school on her own just made it harder, I'm sure. When I had to quit ice skating lessons because we couldn't afford it and our old car couldn't drive that far without troubles, she just told me that it was too far away -- she left out the details.

Every year, until about late elementary school, I'd get a new doll for Christmas. I was a doll fanatic. I didn't like Barbie, she seemed fake and snobby. I preferred those baby dolls that did cool things like move, cry, take a bottle or wet their diapers. A doll was the one gift I looked forward to the most during the holidays (and yet I hated wearing dresses). I never really specified what kind of doll I wanted, but I remember one year I really wanted this doll called Twinkling Thumbelina (I still have that doll in her original outfit :P!).

Every Christmas Eve, my mom let me open one gift before bed. And it had to be before bed... and I wasn't allowed to stay up late just because it was Christmas Eve, my mom had her rules. I made sure to examine every box closely beforehand (those boxes that dolls come in are pretty easy to identify, after awhile :). The plastic on the front makes its own kind of noise compared to the rest of the box, which is stiff from the cardboard. (You see, I'd mastered the art of gift-shaking/guessing because I wanted to make sure I opened the right one on Christmas Eve!) So what about the year I'd asked for Twinkling Thumbelina? My mom pulled a fast one on me and said that she just couldn't find it, that she was so sorry but that I was going to have a doll-less Christmas. I said it was okay, but I was a little sad, too. I was still convinced there was a "doll-box" under the tree, though. I'd had my eye on it for days! So when my mom broke the sad news to me about Twinkling T., I figured she'd just bought me another doll.

What happened? Well, I grabbed the mystery box and opened it verrrrry slowly. Starting at one corner, almost afraid to take a peak. Who could compete with Thumbelina? Oh wait... there'd be no need to answer that question because... it was Thumbelina! (Years later my mom told me that she'd searched high and low for that doll; she said it wasn't until Christmas Eve that she found Twinkling T. in an aisle of a pharmacy, when she was running an errand.)

In spite of what was going on around us or how much we were struggling, there was always a doll under the Christmas tree. There was always a Christmas tree to decorate, even if he was so small and twiggy that we had to decorate him with mini ornaments and place him on top of the table just so he would look rough and tough. There was always a smile on my mom's face when I opened my presents, when we decorated trees together, when I woke her up on Christmas morning... even though she had her own struggles to deal with. This was a time of selflessness, especially for my mom.

Oh, but don't worry. I didn't let her get away with thinking I didn't appreciate her. Though I had a mouth and liked to talk back more than I should've, I loved giving my mom more than just a headache :). Christmas shopping! Yeah, I'm still a fan. Isn't it fun when you're convinced that you finally got that special someone the perfect gift and they'll never guess what it is? Being sneaky never felt so good, right? That brings me to another story. How did I pay back my mom for dealing with me? I bought her a fake goldtone "xoxo" bracelet with tacky fake rhinestones from the "Santa's Shop" store that my school had temporarily put into business in order to raise money, because Catholic schools don't charge enough in tuition ;). She still has it in her jewelry box, to this day. I think it's the most hideous bracelet I've ever seen. But, man, I was so impressed when I laid eyes on that glimmering gaudy piece of costume jewelry. I thought to myself "Yeah, my mom will looove this, she'll never believe that I could afford a gift this pretty with the allowance my grandpa gave me last Sunday!". Of course, when my mom opened it up there was a smile on her face...but I think she was holding back a laugh, now that I think about it. :D

This is just a glimpse of my favorite Christmas memories, things that still make me smile today. My mother's selflessness, desire to make me happy in spite of life's difficulties, and need to protect me from life's "bad news" are things that weren't so obvious to me growing up. I loved Christmas for other reasons then. As a kid, I knew that it was Jesus' Birthday, but I'm still learning about its significance to this day. Still, when I think of former Christmases now, I'm able to see the connection between her love and God's love for us--she wasn't perfect, like any parent, but she tried and gave so much. He sacrificed a lot, too, a perfect baby (not a doll :) that became the perfect sacrifice for us, so that we could experience the joy of Christmas every day, even when times are tough.

4 comments:

The Librarian said...

This is an amazing story, thank you for sharing! And I agree with you: Christmas always fills me with joy and happiness. I actually got so mad at a coworker of mine today that wanted to be a Scrooge and said, "I can't stand Christmas" and I said, "Well, why?" and she said, "It is against my Pagan beliefs" I then proved to her that even when I was a Wiccan I still celebrated Christmas becasue Yule (Winter Solstice) was the original winter holiday so that is not an excuse. Christmas has become commercialized, but if you follow the true meaning in your heart...what does it matter? So...yeah.

Sophie A. said...

Hey Jen! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I know throughout the years we've always been the type to get super excited about the holidays :).

Tracy said...

What a lovely story, Sophie...thank you so much for sharing! I must confess I'm not a very Christmas-y person...LOL! I know, that might seem hard to believe! Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite holiday, so that may be the reason. Plus, I am Buddhist and don't celebrate the religious festival. Winter Solstice makes more sense to me. But it is undoubtedly a special time of year for family & friends gathering, so no matter what one's belief that is a sweet thing--the gathering and sharing. :o) Happy Days, my friend ((HUGS)) Oh, if you get a chance, do stop by--I'm having a sweet gift giveaway to celebrate Thanksgiving week! :o)

Sophie A. said...

Hi Tracy!

So good to hear from you! I've been a horrible blog reader lately :/. Yes, the sharing and gathering is definitely one of my favorite things about the holidays! Ooh and I cannot wait for Thanksgiving either :)!

Oh, I almost forgot to respond to your last post! We aren't sure what the baby is yet, but stay tuned...we'll know some time in the next 3 weeks! Can't wait :0).

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