Here I sit, two days before Christmas, thinking of what a relief it will be for it to be over for another 10 months until the merchants start filling their shelves with gifts and deco for Christmas, while trying desperately to sell the remainder of leftover Halloween merchandise sitting along side the Thanksgiving 'stuff'. It's almost like the world is in a mass stage of holiday hysteria for the last three months of every year. Kids, along with many adults, start hinting at the myriad of stuff they can't live without, with no knowledge or consideration to the stress it creates for many a struggling family. After all, we rationalize, isn't this what credit cards were created for? Buy, buy, buy; worry about paying later. Maybe I am cynical about this in my golden years because I have memories of a time when Christmas was much simpler; stress was rare, and happy anticipation filled the air during the month of December.
It's funny how I remember very few of the gifts I ever received; which is unimportant, but I do remember the trips to Woolworth's Five & Dime store, with the two or three dollars I might have, to spend on gifts for Mom and my seven siblings. No one asked for or expected anything, which made the hours it took to pick something special for each one, so much fun. Searching the Internet or running from store to store, searching and grabbing for made-up sale priced items because 'I can't pass up such a good buy so I might as well get it' was unheard of. Retailers charged an honest price and people spent within their means. Yes, some people had more 'means' than others, but 'keeping up with the Joneses', whether we could afford it or not, hadn't reared it's ugly head in earnest, until the late Seventies. Whether we were believers or not, Christmas was all about the birth of Christ; the feelings of joy, of giving, of good will; the pageants, the choir concerts in schools and churches, the gatherings of family, and the community, the parades, the sparkle and the lights all around, were a true celebration of an historical event that changed the world. Christmas was simple in my youth...I miss it dearly. Now, don't get me wrong, I am still a fan of Christmas, it's true meaning, and fun parts of getting there. I just long for the celebration and anticipation to start in December, not October, so that when it's two days before, I don't have the ugly thought..."I'll be so glad when it's over."