Every year I feel a bit sad, as I recall what Christmas used to feel like as a child, remembering the anticipation, the excitement. I loved rituals that led up to the big day: putting our shoes out for St. Nicholas, marking off days on the Advent calendar, decorating the house. Twinkling lights and carolers. Snow that glittered in the moonlight. I could feel the angels all around me. Christmas meant warmth, comfort, and home: It meant peace. To feel peace was a little taste of heaven. Now sometimes it seems like the most Christmas has to offer is a little bit nostalgia.
Once upon a time, Christmas meant presents. There were two times a year when we got presents in my house: birthdays and Christmas. If you wanted something in July, you’d have to put in on your Christmas list. So making the list was real serious business, kind of like an examination of conscience before confession. If I left something off the list, I would have to wait for my birthday, which wasn’t until May, which would be horrible, because May would be forever away and might as well have been never.
In the mid-eighties, I asked for the Ewok Village every Christmas for about five years. It was my Red Ryder BB Gun but I wasn’t Ralphie: It never appeared under the tree. I eventually stopped asking for it. (Either I got the hint it was too expensive or I outgrew Star Wars.) Then, when I was in my mid-twenties, my mother discovered eBay. I awoke one Christmas to find the Ewok Village waiting for me under the tree — in the original box and everything — it was awesome! (And who are we kidding? One does not outgrow Star Wars. One only turns into a bitter fan who wants to see George Lucas drawn and quartered in a public square. I fully admit I’ll never get over those prequels. Never!)
Aside from my mother’s presents, the gift-giving at our house isn’t what it used to be.
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