When I and my brother and two sisters were kids, our father would make us wait at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning. We were not allowed to go see what Santa had brought us without our father checking the tree first, and then setting up his movie camera to film us charging down the stairs. Of course Daddy would take his sweet time going down the stairs. Several times he would get halfway down the stairs and then pretend he had forgotten something and come back up again. Once back upstairs he would remember that he did not forget whatever it was, and start down the stairs again walking ever so slowly.
Once he finally got downstairs, he would shout, “Holy Moly! Look at all the presents under the tree! Wow! I’ve never seen so many presents! Holy Moly!”
We were not allowed to come down until he set up his movie camera. And when he did? Charge! How we managed never to trample each other is a miracle.
Those were happy Christmases for me. What fun the anticipation! Daddy knew how to tune us up Christmas morning. He later admitted that it was as much fun for him as it was for us. It was a tradition that he had started. Neither he nor my mother had the same thing done to them Christmas morning.
Once married, I was looking forward to having the same fun with my kids at Christmas. I wanted to carry on the tradition that Dad had started, and tune up my kids on Christmas morning.
“What a stupid idea!” said my wife. “Making kids wait at the top of the stairs. No, you’re not doing that. The kids can come down and open their presents the way it’s done normally.”
“But, honey,” I said, “the best part of Christmas was the anticipation. I have to think hard to remember any gifts I got, but how easy it is to remember how much fun it was waiting for Dad to let us come down.”
“No! It’s a stupid idea and you’re not doing it.”
So marked the beginning of Christmas’ downfall for me. After we separated, my ex-wife did everything she could to prevent me from seeing the kids at Christmas time. If I did see the kids, then it was after a great obstacle course that she created. Some Christmases she fixed it so that I never saw my kids at all. With not seeing my kids coupled with the tensions that arise with family at Christmas, I got depressed at Christmas and never looked forward to it.
I loathed going to family functions, but went out of a sense of obligation. I thought, “One should be with family at Christmas time.” I thought this even though I hated that we got together and pretended that we were happy; that we had no unresolved issues. We were assisted with this illusion by alcohol and drugs. I have asked several times, but no one wants to try to resolve these issues.
No where is it written that one should spend Christmas with family. No where is it written that one should celebrate Christmas. Realizing this has taken away the guilt I felt by not spending Christmas with my family, and not celebrating Christmas.
Christmas is a hodgepodge of Pagan traditions and ideas from fiction. At one time Christmas was banned by Christians because of this. There was never a time that Christmas was not commercial. Our image of Santa Claus comes from a Coca Cola advertisement.
Why not be generous all year round and not just at Christmas? Why be miserable and force yourself to socialize with people you never socialize with the rest of the year?
If Christmas is your thing and you enjoy spending it with family, then Merry Christmas!
As for me? I have no idea what I will be doing on December 25, but I will be having fun just as I do everyday. Cheers!