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Thursday, 20 December 2007

Ghosts Of Christmas Past

By Lia of the Yum Yum Café blog

My children have never celebrated Christmas in Canada with grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins. We were either down at my parent’s home in Grenada keeping the fires warm for my parents’ return from Montreal, or at home in Luebeck, Germany.

All of our Christmases have been simple ones. No fuss, just a few chosen gifts, good food, and time in between to go beachcombing in Grenada, or playing the newest computer game in Luebeck, or sit on the couch reading anywhere. Nothing particularly spectacular, but very much Ours; to do with as we wish.

The Christmases from my childhood can only be described as a horse-drawn wagon gone out of control. One of those old Western movies, where the pioneering family wagon barrels wildly down a hilly path after the horses have shied away from a rattlesnake or some other wild beast.

To do the above-mentioned analogy justice, you must imagine that our Christmases (wagon) were weighed down with a huge load of traditions, expectations, predictable choreography of behaviour, well-meaning intentions, shopping lists, last minute errands, unpredictable weather fronts, unavoidable bouts of flu, pre-arranged topics of conversation to be avoided, sibling jealousies, and a massive amount of work and preparation on my mother’s side.

Once the relatives arrived, we children were aware that some unforseen Incident loomed underneath the surface of the joyous glittery Christmas Day celebrations. And we knew that, eventually, when it burst forth, it would transport us all in another direction than was intended or wanted.

And burst it did. Tears. Quick retreats behind closed bedroom doors. Dismal disappointments. Hysterics. Loudly whispered critique.

You might say that it was all Nothing. And you are absolutely right. I wouldn’t change those Christmases one bit. They were as they were, and thus, they were perfect in their special way.

The ghosts of my Christmas Past are bright and colourful, with a lot of laughter and tears. They are not at all like the memories some friends have to tell: the one friend whose father bought everything on an overdrawn credit card and they had to give the presents back, or another friend who really did get coal in her stocking because she was having trouble with wetting her bed whenever her parents had drunken fights at night.

How easy it is to forget that many people do not celebrate Christmas, but endure it. For all of you who have experienced such disasters, may you find a grandness of spirit to forgive.

Yet, looking back, the best of my Christmases were those spent quietly. Those, whose end was not accompanied with tears and exhaustion, or built-up resentment, or forced elation. They were ones spent in the company of family and friends in pursuit of simple pleasures.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Simplicity is best.

My Christmas celebrations have gone from orgies to a quiet day alone. I guess both have their rewards and drawbacks, but I would love to have just one more orgy, disappointments and all.


Your story made me think of all the people who don't particularly enjoy the holidays.

My wish for them is a peaceful and quiet day with no unhappy memories intruding on their serenity.

Thanks for the reminder.

Thank you Lia. I come from a Christmas of expectations and try to keep life very simple these days. Simple is good.

Darlene, I hope that wild excessive celebration does come true for you.

Since I was single until I was 35, after leaving home at 14, I had plenty of practice at spending Christmases alone. Out of choice, not because missing opportunity. Most of my friends did not have this experience until they were older and family was too far away to get together. Whereas I loved the days alone, they dread them.

Those are the best for me too, and here lately, they seem to be possible! Merry Christmas to you.

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