Everyone embraces this time of year differently. Some by leaping full-force into it– “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” style, and others by emphatically NOT embracing it at all. And a whole bunch of in-between. Those who know me, would accuse me of being the former–like Clark Griswald or Buddy the Elf. I greet the season with enthusiasm which is odd because I’m not religious, nor do I like shopping and definitely not into consumerism. There are strong origins in my love for the season however, and I’ll unapologetically continue to listen to my holiday music, drink from Santa mugs and wear my Rudolph-adorned jammies. It is a joyful time for me.
Some of my earliest memories are of the holidays. For one, I’m Czech and was raised with many of the Czech traditions, including the celebration of St Nicklaus Day, in addition to Christmas. This was when Santa arrived on the eve of December 6th. We’d hang our long ski socks, put out cookies, and carrots for the reindeer (unless we were in Washington at my aunt’s in which case we’d put out beer and pretzels because “Santa gets tired of milk and cookies”). Then shezam!…just like that, we’d have stockings filled with candy including fudge (a personal favorite). We’d also receive coal which indicated we’d been “naughty” to which my sister and I would feel horrible and I’d even try to figure out exactly which outbursts resulted in this gentle reprimand.
Christmas was weeks later, which in kid-world was an eternity. This time was spent celebrating the season–baking cookies and candies, visiting family, and going to holiday events. It was like an extended “Sunday” which for some, was meant as a day of rest, but was instead spent in fun festivities bonding with family. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that my mom’s side of the family were all musicians/entertainers, therefore, singing, dancing, and imbibing in general, was a “thing” and Christmas was the Grande Finale!! Especially my Aunt Rosemary who was a real-life “Auntie Mame” for those old enough to understand that reference. When I think of Christmas I think of my relatives, of singing at nursing homes, of charity, and hours upon hours of “woman talk” with aunts, grandma, mom and sis while cooking and baking. It was happiness…togetherness.
Now, much has changed in my life. Probably the most impactful is the passing of most of my family since I’m the second-to-the-youngest of a large one. I might not be able to be with them now, but the memories are very vivid and I carry these memories with me every time I look at a Christmas tree or hear a particular song. I am grateful for that, and for now having “chosen family” to share new experiences with. However you spend December, I wish you a fabulous month and if the holidays aren’t your thing, change the channel on your radio (or subscription service)…don’t worry, it’ll all be over Jan 1 for another year.