Ho – Ho – Hold it! It seems that Christmas is in full gear. My neighbours put these decorations up the day after Halloween, making them the first house on the block to decorate, but now many other homes are all dolled-up, too. I have to admit that the wreaths and bows and lights are pleasant, especially at night when I’m walking Jack in the dark. I like Christmas decorations. They’re cheerful on a cold, dark winter’s night
I have wonderful memories of Christmases as a child, especially related to decorating. Every year, Dad would put his axe in the car, and we’d drive to a Christmas tree farm where I would get to choose the tree and Dad would chop it down. Then we’d tie it t the top of the car (always a Volkswagon Beetle – because they were German and reliable as hell) and then of coming home and helping my mother to decorate the tree and the house. Mom was a bit of a perfectionist about things, but we would listen to Christmas carols and drink hot chocolate and she would tell me exactly what to put where and how. Some decorations had stories that mom would tell year after year. The Santa on skis that came with my grandparents from Germany. Blown glass birds with feathery tails also from Germany, sent by an Aunt I never met. My favourite was always the colourful embroidered cat that mom was given to commemorate the year I was born. We had a ceramic Christmas tree made by one of Mom’s friends just for her. Mom wanted extra snow on it and Aunt Dorothy made it so. Mostly, mom would take over, leaving me free to sing and play and look through the Sears and Eaton catalogues and refine my wish list. By the end of the day, the house would be transformed into a magical wonderland. Once the house was all dollied up, then mom would begin the Christmas baking. She made dozens of cookies, many pans of squares, rum balls, cherry tarts, loaves of bread and all sorts of other pretty and delicious treats to give as gifts and share with guests during the holiday season. My dad was a mason, and we always had a lot of lodge brothers visit over the holiday season.
Now, I feel much differently about Christmas. The over-commercialisation annoys me and the push to spend and overspend on silly gifts. This year the big box stores had all sorts of Christmas paraphernalia in before Halloween, which I found in the way and annoying. I don’t have children, and neither do most of my friends, so a few years ago, I said no to Christmas gifts. All my friends will get a donation to the charity of their choice, and that’s what I get in return. It’s win-win. I avoid the crowded stores and trying to figure out what to get the people on my list, all of whom complain about clutter, and a few charities get a small boost. It’s a great way to make a secular Christmas meaningful. Try to do a bit of decorating, too, though. The dog walkers will thank you.