The Roundup -

Christmases Past; Christmas Today


I've decided that Christmas truly belongs to youngsters. The eager eyes, the intense anticipation, and the sheer enchantment of the season spills out of every child's being, and adults cannot help but get drawn into the magical wonderland we call Christmas. Children love the decorating, the school concerts, and the idea of filling their homes from stem to stern with the reminders of the season. They thrive on the overall atmosphere of this special time of year that fills them with great expectations. In my experience, if we as adults with no children or grandchildren around us want to retain the magic of Christmas, we have to work at it.

I loved Christmas as a child. My mother told me many times that she hoped I would never lose the special delight I felt through the month of every December. Unfortunately, real life gets in the way and that excitement and anticipation did not last into my adult years. I graduated from university, moved to another country, and got married all within the space of a few short months. Throughout my adult life, I have seldom had the ability to recapture the thrill I felt as a youth for the arrival of the holiday season.

I tried, believe me. Yes, I have had very wonderful Christmas seasons as an adult, but few of them rivaled the Christmases I had as a youngster. That first Christmas as a young bride far from home and with a small household income, the absence of money moved me to create my own decorations for our tree. I also did the required baking, made multiple varieties of cookies, decorated the house, whipped up a batch of the fudge I only made for Christmas, decorated a large tree, but all to no avail. My groom had a totally different outlook on the Yuletide season, his family had celebrated in ways different than mine; my husband and I had to compromise on most of the basics of celebrating Christmas, including when to open our gifts and what to have for Christmas dinner. I missed my family, who were in large part the reason Christmas meant so much to me as a child, and somehow, my husband and I celebrating Christmas alone in a foreign country didn't quite meet my expectations.

Through the years I continued to try to replicate the Christmases of my youth, weathering an unhappy marriage, an eventual divorce, and a move back to Montana to live close to my beloved sister and brother-in-law. Christmases became bright again, as my sister and I developed our own traditions and ways to celebrate the holidays. I finally realized there was no way on earth I could ever recapture the Christmases of my childhood, but I certainly could create new traditions and fresh memories and enjoy the season as an adult. I looked forward to the holidays again, delighted in planning Christmas Eve food, and appreciated the immense pleasure I felt when I found those special gifts for my sister and her husband that I knew would please them. I even did a bit of Christmas baking, including making my favorite fudge.

I remarried a few years ago to a man who never celebrated Christmas much as a child, so bringing him into the mix proved interesting and frustrating at the same time. After my marriage, I had two more years of Christmases with my sister and brother in law before the lot of us packed up and moved, my husband and I to Virginia City and my sister and her husband to Washington State.

Christmas spirit, anticipation, and enthusiasm disintegrated once more, and for the past two years since our move to Virginia City I developed apathy for the season and an attitude that many older people unfortunately seem to develop: Christmas is just another day.

However, I don't want my Christmases to be just another day. I want them to hold promise, joy, and appreciation for life and the world around me. I want to feel peace, contentment, and a little bit of magic, so to that end, I continued to decorate the house to a certain extent, I set the star my father made that I have covered with solar lights out on the front porch, and I continued to purchase gifts I thought my husband might like. I filled a stocking for him for the last two years that contained small items so he had surprises to look forward to on Christmas morning.

Making new traditions and starting over yet again takes time. My efforts the past two years have worked to an extent but this year I have high hopes for Christmas. In August we bought a 5 acre lot on the side of a mountain that overlooks Virginia City. Both my husband and I love the place; it offers peace and quiet, a great view, and the chance to move out of Virginia City proper and into our own small cabin.

The property has a wealth of spruce and juniper trees of various sizes and shapes, and I intend to purchase solar powered outdoor Christmas lights and decorate one or two of those trees for Christmas. The thought makes me smile, and every time I look at those trees with the thought of choosing one or two of them for my outdoor Christmas trees, I feel some stirrings of anticipation about the upcoming Christmas season, a feeling I have not had for the past three years.

We also have a small 12x20 foot building on the mountain property that will eventually become my office once we get our cabin on location. Before the cabin arrives, we plan to move a futon to the future office, which already has a heat source, and spend a few overnighters in our dream future lodgings until such time as we sell the house we currently live in and move to our new home.

I have expectations we will spend Christmas Eve at the new property, enjoy the solar lighted outdoor Christmas trees shining outside our window, and to share the best Christmas we have had since moving to Virginia City.

Sometimes the little things and the simple pleasures provide all we need to turn 'just another day' into the holiday we desire. I know I can never replicate Christmases of my childhood. Siblings have scattered in different directions, parents have left this earth, and locations and situations I experience now resemble nothing I experienced in my youth.

However, if I can continue to find the small joys, plan activities that make me smile and that fill my heart with gladness, then I have succeeded in my quest to have a special, meaningful holiday season.


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