Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What is it for you, this so-called 'Spirit of Christmas'?

This is a post I've been wanting to write for some time now but just didn't find the time and when I did have the time, the energy to write it.

You see, my working hours and days at the store have tripled due to the Christmas season and being on my feet all day and enjoying every moment with customers leaves me completely spent - in a good way, of course.

It also means that, for the moment at least, I feel unable to do much when I get home other than make myself dinner, give my dog hers, put my feet up and watch some docco or comedy on TV.  Oh, that and make a few Christmas presents and cards for the few people that I have on my mental list for giving cards and presents to.  I should add that the warm (hot, if you ask me) and humid weather isn't conducive to much else.

So, what was this post I so badly wanted to write?  Well, it's really to ask you this question:

Do you feel you have the 'Christmas spirit' happening for you and if so, what is it?

It's a question that I've been asking myself.  I mean, I wonder what the 'Christmas spirit' is, you know?

As a child in an oppressively Catholic family, it was very much about the amazing birth of this baby following the arduous journey of its parents and the magical arrival of the Magi at the stable amidst shepherds and farm animals, all of which was foreshadowed by what we knew too well would be the tragic-triumphant destiny of this child.  At least that's how I remember it.

It was also the one of perhaps two occasions in the year (the other being birthdays) when we had new clothes.  Our family of nine kids  was too poor to afford them any other time.  As for exchanging gifts, well there was none of that for obvious reasons.  Those were the conditions within which the 'Christmas spirit' manifested for me as a child.

Actually, there was more,  relating to the ongoing brutality of my father which seemed to escalate to cataclysmic proportions on occasions of significance resulting in an atmosphere of unbearable tension between innocent enthusiasm and inescapable dread.

But that's all in the distant past and I have had many. many more joyous, gift-giving and pain-free Christmases since :).  (And I hold nothing against my dad, now some years passed on).

I suppose I'm wondering what is left of the 'Christmas spirit' now that the religious purpose and overtones of Christmas are no longer relevant (as is the case with me) and the gift-giving has been liberated from obligation and convention.

I know I feel immensely freer and more open to spending Christmas day with people other than family.  Admittedly, this has been happening for a few years now as the children have approached 'adulthood' (whatever that means).

I had this thought yesterday: So much for tradition...what's mine?  What's my family's?

It used to be going to midnight mass in our new clothes, checking out everyone else's new gear, listening to the choir's delicious harmonies and enchanting solos sung from the loft of a church that swelled and overflowed with people I didn't usually see at the weekly services and returning home to have my father open a bottle of sherry which we each, the eleven or so family members,  got a thimble full off (just about) together with a no-where-near-enough crumb of fruit cake.

I tried to keep this tradition going with my family, before and after I got divorced, with much more generous helpings of sherry and fruit cake of course :).  It lasted for many years but with my daughter now in Melbourne and my son experimenting with life as all of us are destined to do, I'm left with neither tradition nor anyone to pass it on to!

So what's left of the Christmas spirit for me, I'm wondering.  And I'm asking you the question certain that your answers will help me find and refine mine.  Care to share?

PS I wish you the true gifts of Christmas - Peace, Joy and Love.  And may 2011 thrill you with the wonder and magic of your dreams fulfilled!

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