Change, But Keep Celebrating
When I was young, Christmas was a big thing, It started at midnight, with mass. Then sleep, for a little while (at least the children slept, Santa and Mrs. Santa probably did not). Then the tree, and presents, and Christmas carols on the record player, and a turkey dinner. Even if we were living in Athens or Addis Ababa. Christmas was Christmas. It was not very religious, but it was very American.
After I was on my own, living in this country, Christmas was spent with friends and there was no need to proclaim its Americanness. I was introduced to Chinese food and movies on Christmas day. And no tree. Sometimes carols, and usually a few presents. It was still Christmas, but different.
Marriage and children brought dual celebrations—Christmas and Hannukah. I learned to make latkes, and to love the candle lighting each night. We had a tree once again, sometimes with blue lights. We baked and decorated gingerbread people (one year we were ambitious and built gingerbread houses), listened to carols and made turkey feasts. And of course there were presents—at first, wrapping paper and ribbon got the most attention. Then toys. Now, we still eat and drink and make merry but being together is the highlight.
Our holiday traditions will surely change again. But the foundational idea--family and friends celebrating with festive lights and gifts and food--is one to cherish.