Christmas Comes From the Heart, Not a Store

I often hear people say they wish Christmas was celebrated the way it used to be. In the past, Christmas was celebrated very simply.

When I was growing up, we looked forward to Christmas. We believed that Santa kept a list of who was naughty or nice and we were on our best behavior. Times were difficult financially for many families during the 1940s and ’50s. We did not enjoy the luxuries of today. Many people did not own a TV.

MP900409379Christmas was not tied to the commercialism of shopping or competition. Instead, sugar cookies were made and decorated as we listened to Christmas songs on the radio. Live Christmas trees were decorated with shiny glass ornaments. Stringing popcorn and cranberries to wrap around the tree or making homemade ornaments at school was our fun.

We would spend Christmas Eve with our aunts, uncles and cousins, having fun and enjoying family. We could open one present. Our mom would help us pick out our clothes for midnight Mass. During Mass, we would try not to fall asleep as we heard the story of baby Jesus.

I remember lying awake in bed listening for Santa and wondering if I would get what I wished for. Christmas morning we would open our stocking from Santa first. We did not receive a lot of gifts. We were happy for what we received. Perhaps we knew times were hard, and our gifts were given from the heart and of good will.

This is Elsie’s story:

Elsie was born in 1922 and is 91 years old. She recently told me her Christmas story.

When she was 7 years old, her father worked for U.S. Steel in Elwood City, Penn. During Christmastime, the owners would invite the children of the steel workers to their private hall to see Santa Claus.

MP900423696Each child would receive a stocking filled with a popcorn ball, hard-tack candy, pretzels and a box of Cracker Jacks. Santa would ask each child what she/he wanted for Christmas. When Elsie spoke to Santa, she said she wanted a doll and carriage. Santa said to her, “If you are very good, you will get what you ask for.”

On Christmas morning, she woke up and looked for her present behind the chair in her living room as they did not have a Christmas tree.

Instead of a doll and carriage, she found an orange, a dime and a box of Italian candy, Terrone. She was so disappointed that she would never again ask Santa for a Christmas gift.

This year Elsie opened her Christmas present from Santa early and found a doll and carriage. She was excited and happy and said, “I got my babydoll!” A dream fulfilled.

“Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under the tree.” — Charlotte Carpenter

Until next time, light and blessings to you.

Let me know what you think or ask me a question by emailing me at squiggylpc@hotmail.com.

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The First Week of December

For most of us, the first week of December, is the first week of the Christian holiday of Christmas. During the month of December in Colorado you will see snow covering the ground and be in awe of the beauty of snow packed mountain peaks. The average snow in Denver in December is 8.5 inches and December is the coldest month of the year in Colorado. A great month for skiers.

MP900431277Many people are preparing their homes for Christmas. Decorations and holly will be placed in windows and on doors while lighted Christmas trees will sparkle and dance. Children are not shy in asking for holiday gifts as they dream of Rudolph, Santa and the joy of Christmas morning. Young or old everyone is entitled to the anticipation and wonder and of Christmas morning with pretty presents under the tree and all the excitement the holiday brings.

The hustle and bustle of Christmas has begun! Some who have not made Christmas travel plans will search the web hoping for low fares. Christmas is in the air. People seem to be more gracious and giving during this time of the year than any other. Why? Perhaps this is because the many activities that surround Christmas give happiness, joy and purpose to people.

Sadly, a segment of the population does not enjoy the holidays. For those who have not had the memories of childhood joys, or people that experience sadness or depression during the holiday season, Christmas can be daunting. There are many triggers that cause feelings of stress and unhappiness during this season. Some have lost a loved one during this year and are grieving. Grieving during any time is difficult, but loss during the holiday is especially poignant. Many people are single and live alone and do not have a good support system around them. Seeing others interact with their families can be sad and painful for them. Estrangement and divorce is another loss that can cause inner conflict and sadness. With the decreased sunshine and the gloomy weather seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is yet another reason that people have a difficult time enjoying the holiday season.

The Mayo Clinic lists 3 triggers for the holiday blues or holiday depression: relationships, finances, and holiday demands. Mental Health America points out that there are many people who experience post-holiday let down or post-holiday blues after the first of January. If you know someone who is going through a difficult time during the holidays, encourage them to ask for help.

"It's a Wonderful Life"If you are feeling sad or depressed this holiday season realize that your symptoms are very similar to clinical depression and if your symptoms continue to interfere with the quality of your life see a professional. If you feel the holiday blues interfering with your peace of mind and your joy perhaps you can use this first week of December to bring the joy of the season to someone else. Volunteer at a nursing home or a hospital or simply enjoy a Christmas movie classic such as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Create new memories by going to see Christmas light displays or hang a few of your own. Surprise a friend and take her/him to dinner. Choose something you have an interest in and you will find new meaning and enjoy the experience.

Let me know what you think or ask me a question by emailing me at squiggylpc@hotmail.com. Until next time, light and blessings to you.