As I sit here stressing about the last minute gifts left to be bought and whether I have enough Christmas cards for everyone, I long for the days when I was a kid and Christmas was fun and magical, rather than stressful and draining on the wallet.
I remember getting a few weeks off school where I would follow mom around the kitchen, helping bake the most delicious cookies, or helping dad secretly wrap presents.
Evenings we would take a trip to town to look at all the Christmas lights, often driving by the spectacular display put up by a former teacher, a tradition I still enjoy doing now.
Christmas Eve at home was usually spent playing games together, and watching for Santa up in the sky. I would always put out cookies and milk for Santa, sometimes even a day or two early. Living in the country I made sure to leave some carrots and even oats for the reindeer, whom my parents would make look as if they were really in the yard, although I’m sure it was probably just the resident white tailed deer.
I couldn’t get up early enough Christmas morning, peaking in my stocking and snooping under the tree to see what Santa brought. We always began the morning opening our stockings first, before sitting down to a special breakfast that mom had cooked. Then came the rest of the present opening before the family started to call.
The rest of the day was for relaxing and enjoying our new things while mom prepared dinner.
This was, and is still my favorite routine for Christmas, but as dad worked shift work, this routine didn’t always work out. And sometimes we traveled to Calgary to spend Christmas with various family members.
Now that I’m older and off on my own, my days leading up to Christmas aren’t as fun. I’m left to do my own shopping, write my own Christmas cards, and do my own baking. I don’t put up many decorations, partially on account that I haven’t acquired very much in my time alone, but partly because it doesn’t really feel like home.
The only days off I get are Christmas day and Boxing day, leaving me to use some vacation days so I can have some extra time with my family. We still have a games night Christmas Eve, and it’s been extended to include my best friend and her family, as well as old school friends who are also home for the holidays.
So while I’ve incurred some more Christmas duties to add extra stress and financial strain during the month of December, I still enjoy the basic warmth of spending some extra special time with the people I love for the holidays.