(Today’s post is a guest post from Erin Kendall of Turtleduck Press. Enjoy!)
Christmas. It is my most favorite time of year: snow-covered streets; beautiful lights on houses and stores; people dashing around in a buying frenzy; our Christmas tree (which I swear looks more beautiful every year, even though technically it’s the same tree); family and friends, love and gifts, Christmas carols and hot chocolate by the fire….
I could go on and on. I think the most important part is family. I have so many precious memories of our family Christmases over the years. So many traditions. For instance, on Christmas Eve we’d have hors d’oeuvres and open stocking stuffers. The stocking stuffer tradition started way before I was born. It began as simply gag gifts to everyone, but then evolved into more fun and practical gifts. They were always small and inexpensive, and they were so fun to open up! It was like a pre-Christmas, Christmas before Christmas…you get the idea.
Every year my grandparents would invite someone over who didn’t have anywhere to go. That family tradition is something we continue to this day. We’d also get a visit from Santa Claus, which was always so much fun. I can still remember Grandma and Grandpa’s Christmas tree with the Santa on his sleigh revolving around it on top (sounds weird, but it was so cool). I also remember the delicate, old-fashioned ornaments and the strings of pearls and…everything. My Grandma passed when I was 11, and my Grandfather passed away this past February. It’s interesting how memory works: I was such a little kid then, but I remember it all in perfect clarity. Ah, those were the days.
Christmas morning we’d wake up really early and dive into those presents that Santa left for us. It was a time of magic and wonder and love…and fun! When we got older, we continued our tradition of stocking stuffers and hors d’oeuvres. Every Christmas Eve I remember those days and smile, because they were magic to me.
I’ve been very blessed over the years. When I married my ex-husband, I learned about the traditions of the Czech Republic. Did you know that they consider our Christmas Eve to be Christmas? And they “reveal” the Christmas tree that night for the first time, and they open gifts at night! It was mind-boggling, but very interesting and different. They have a huge, formal meal as well. I enjoyed being part of their traditions for the time we were married. Sometimes I still think of them on Christmas Eve.
Christmas isn’t just about gifts and great food and a twinkling tree. It’s about love. Building precious memories. Remembering those who aren’t with us anymore. Staying true to our traditions, a nod to our past. But most of all, it’s family. Without family we don’t have a tangible link to the past or the future. Without family there is no magic, no wonder in it.
And, naturally, tis the season for giving. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy getting gifts (who doesn’t?) but for me, the real magic is in the giving. The first year I was with my husband’s family for Christmas, I took special care to give each of his family members something that I thought they would enjoy. I gave my mother-in-law a special photograph created from Polaroids (called polaroid transfer) which I made sure matched her family room decor; I gave my sister-in-law a glass figurine of a cat (she is a cat lover just like me), and for my father-in-law, who loves reading, I gave him an anthology that I’d had an essay published in. I was so proud of it, and I knew he’d get a big kick out of it. As I had hoped, my offerings were well received and enjoyed, which was the whole point.
So every year I look forward to this time. I even try to enjoy the snow (for a White Christmas!) and the hustle bustle of the holiday season. I try to reflect and remember those who aren’t with me anymore. I try to send blessings to all my loved ones, family both blood and chosen. I try to give of my heart and with joy in my soul.
Merry Christmas (a bit early, I know!) to you all. Have a magical, perfect holiday season. Live, laugh, love always.
And now for the obligatory plug: I’d like to mention the winter-themed anthology that Turtleduck Press, a writer’s alliance I belong to, released Dec. 1st. It’s filled with stories and poems. And the best part is that proceeds go to UNICEF, so we don’t make a dime on this. If you’d like to order a copy, please check it out here:
It would mean a lot to us if you’d consider purchasing a copy this holiday season.
writing blog ~