Saturday, December 17, 2011

40 Years Ago and Now

Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.
~Joan Mills

I love Christmas time, but I also do not like what Christmas has become. My husband and I often talk about how much the world has changed within our lifetime and have sorrows for our daughter, for the world she has been born into. It is so very different. She cannot have the world as we did as children.

Was it that we were so innocent? It was difficult for me to be innocent with an abusive father, who used manipulation and lies so regularly, but the world itself...I guess, in a way, I might have been sheltered from it. When I was ten, the age of the Princess, we did not have home computers and the Internet. Many phones were still on party lines and we did not have one. Some of the more fortunate people had color TV, but we had black and white. What did that matter, because there were few shows and only two stations that came in clear enough to watch at all.

It is so different now.

So many choices.

So much information.

So little personal interaction.

So much fear of people.

I knew our neighbors when I was ten. I did not know the term "community" but I lived it. We did not fear the world. Children were still encouraged to be polite when talking to strangers, instead being told not to talk to them or to run away from them.

Oh, I remember hearing about threats of war and fear of missiles and communism, but that was adult talk. The news may have been biased as it is now and I was unaware, but it seemed to me that mostly reporters just reported the news, but much of it then sheltered us in a way. I do not remember the words "rape" or "sex abuse" or details of a violent murder given on a newscast, certainly not like they are now. I supposed some would say there was more censorship, but I always felt it was out of respect for the family and friends that such details were not broadcasted. The news is not something I like for my daughter to hear in this day in age.

Christmas time is when I tend to remember the best things of my childhood and there were some good things even in my troubled home. Some of it was the presents, but what I remember most is that one special thing I wished for and making cookies with my mother. She and I had a difficult relationship, but I do remember making cookies with her.

I have shifted away from the "things" of Christmas. In fact, now the commercialism of it sickens me and even more so the secularism.

We cannot have Nativity scenes on public property without lawsuits.

We cannot call them "Christmas" trees because it offends someone.

I have nothing against saying "Happy Holidays" because "Merry Christmas" also sounds...well, I guess it sounds superficial to me, but it is the traditional good sentiment.

I do still like picking out a tree, decorating it, and having it light up my living room even though I know its pagan beginnings; God made the tree first. I still like setting up our Nativity sets of which we do have many, even a half-size one outside that you would expect to see displayed at a large church--my husband's present to himself to make his stand against wiping out Christianity from Christmas. I still like making cookies and candies to give away to our families, church family, and the few neighbors we do know. I still like having a few presents under the tree for my daughter, just for her, and a present or two for the family.

I am just so very thankful that we chose to turn off our TV service. I do not miss it at all now.

I am thankful that we have connected more with neighbors and our community.

I am thankful for the Internet and computers. I think we use them responsibly for the most part. My daughter has an email pen-pal that she met this summer at the Cave Spring Fishing Rodeo and they write to each other often. She also writes to her grandmother often. She does not even know how to surf the Internet, but I bookmarked safe websites for her. She has only a few computer games and plays them seldom.

Our Christmas has been downsized these past few years and I am glad for it.

I am also very glad that Christmas falls on Sunday this year. We are having a come-as-you-are casual, relaxed, family-oriented, home church style Christmas service. Our pastor wrote that he is coming in jeans, which if you knew him, you would realize how much that is just not like him. He wears suits and stepped down to wear a polo top with a casual slack and large cross necklace just recently. My daughter is thinking she would like to go in her pajamas, but I told her that I think we will have plenty of time to change clothes, but then she does have a very nice flannel red and green plaid gown....

We are holding off opening presents until after church. Actually, I wish that there was a church service on every Christmas day. I know that it cuts into family time, but I think it helps bring focus to what it really is all about. We have traditions on Christmas eve to remind us here in our home, but I am really looking forward to worshiping with my church family as a family. Perhaps that is because we have no family around? No...it is more than that. I want a piece of what I had as a child and some pieces I did not have. My father was against anything to do with church, but we as children did go to one now and then. I always liked it.

I want every Christmas to be a good memory for my daughter and this one in particular because she is emerging from childhood and beginning that awkward bloom into being a young lady. I know that one day, like me, she will wish she could recapture that which she would readily discard now in her struggle to adulthood. I know that our customs and traditions will influence her on the decisions she will make for her own family. I know that she will one day reflect on her childhood memories of this Christmas and I hope she remembers that we placed our worship of our Lord first, and the gathering with friends and family second, the joy for baking and giving third, and the most important present we receive is a symbolism of the gifts Christ received.

~ My Lord, I get caught every year in the hurry-worry of what Christmas has become. I tell myself it will be different next year and each year is a bit different, not always as I hoped. I wonder, my Lord, have I done in a way that pleases You? I feel pulled further away in the preparation and all the activities when I think I should feel closer to You instead. Help me to give my daughter the memories and pass on traditions that are pleasing to You and that she will hold close to her heart to pass on to her children and they to theirs. ~

2 comments:

  1. "I did not know the term "community" but I lived it."

    I love this post. It brought back so many of my own memories of my growing up years. And you're right; our children are growing up in a world so different from the one we grew up in.

    We continue to look for new ways each year to "downsize" Christmas - the commercialism of it - just a little more.

    We've never had cable TV in our home. We have a DVD player though. I'm really glad the TV is not a part of our daily lives.

    Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Denise, thank you.

    I see a marked difference between families who allow their children to watch TV and those who do not.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.