This year was the first in which Christmas had a completely different feeling. I’ve since adjusted to the “surprise me” weather that we’ve gotten over recent years. But now that the economy is weak other things have noticeably changed.
I remember Christmas in Jamaica. In my youth I used to think that the Christmas they showed on television was make-believe. I thought that a Jamaican Christmas was not like real Christmas. It was always warm, there was never snow, and there was never that cozy Christmas feeling. It wasn’t until I moved back to the US that I started to feel the way I felt Christmas should be. My youthful perception of Christmas had been molded by American television. Then again, I was still a child and that feeling of Christmas was bound to change as I became older. The only thing that was important at the time was in knowing that I’d have a mountain of gifts under the tree. As long as I had more than or equal to the number of gifts my brother received, I was generally happy. Case in point, my parents had to purchase two Teddy Ruxpin bears because I didn’t like to share.
This was the first Christmas that was scaled back. Our family Christmas dinner was actually on the 22nd rather than the 25th and it was the first Christmas that there was nothing for me under my parents’ tree. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t a spectacular Christmas. Quite the contrary, this past Christmas was arguably one of the best. We made sure that for my niece and nephew Christmas was filled with presents and tradition. However, for the adults we did things a little bit different.
Customarily my parents gift my and my brother’s family with a trip. In the past it was cruises while this year was a staycation. It had been years since I’d gone to Stone Mountain, a commonplace stomping ground in my youth. And in adulthood my trips there were scarcer. To date I still haven’t seen the “new” laser show. For this trip we stayed two nights, those leading up to the family Christmas dinner, inside the park. It was an all-inclusive gift. It served as my sister-in-law’s 30th birthday gift, my 32nd birthday gift and our family outing. Sometimes it really bites to be a December baby, combination gifts are the worst!
Our family is a well-travelled one but this trip was different. Everything seemed to align. It was great getting away yet still remain less than an hour away from my parents’ home. Adults and kids, we hunkered down and simply enjoyed each other’s company. We laughed, the kids swam and I started on my usual New Years resolution by working out both days in the hotel’s gym.
Maybe it’s because I already have the newest iPhone and iPad, or maybe not. Due to this scaled back Christmas, I had the opportunity to consider the truly important things about the season. I can’t pinpoint a moment but I do know that in recent years my feelings on the holiday season changed. I realized that while it was great to get the gifts I want (they’re listed on my Amazon Wish list), what I loved the most was just being with the family. And certainly when times are tough and money is a little tight, just being with the family playing games, talking or even watching television, those are the moments I’ll always remember.
Our family loves to travel and with each trip there is always something to remember. Whether it’s dad continuing to drive in one direction just to be “the man of the vehicle” even when he knows he’s lost or my mother being his trusty but argumentative co-pilot, gifts are forgotten over time while the memories of the times shared are what will always remain.
Even if it’s just time at the house or time spent away, Christmas with the ones you love trumps all the gifts in the world. So, in contrast to my last article, Christmas is different through the eyes of an adult. The thing is, you really don’t know what tomorrow will bring and time spent valuably is what truly matters. Now, if I’d won the lottery then I may have to reconsider that declaration!
This article appeared on page 5A in the 1/9/13 issue of The Union-Recorder.