An Old-Fashioned Christmas
November 22, 2017 | View PDF
I decided that this year my husband and I would celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas. Then it hit me that this year I will see my 69th Christmas season. I don’t feel that old, I can’t remember all my previous sixty plus holiday seasons, but I celebrated them. Some years stood out as exceptional, other years lacked true Christmas spirit and festive feelings, but I did manage to see sixty-eight Yuletide seasons come and go.
I obviously can qualify as an old-fashioned person in my own right. After surviving more than six decades of holiday seasons, I certainly do not qualify for spring chicken status, nor am I a novice at holidays. Any Christmas I celebrate from now on could be considered an old fashioned one considering the age of the celebrant.
So then I have to ask myself, what constitutes an old fashioned Christmas? During my childhood, oh so many moons ago, holidays meant immediate family members present and accounted for: parents, siblings, and any living grandparents, all gathered together to celebrate the season, exchange gifts, enjoy a fabulous feast that we all looked forward to with great anticipation, and attend Christmas Eve candlelight services.
Of course, we also eagerly awaited the Christmas offerings on TV. I’m showing my age here, as I recall variety show specials that included the Andy Williams Christmas special, Lawrence Welk, Perry Como, and the Ed Sullivan show. We also never tired of the annual holiday favorites such as The Littlest Angel and A Christmas Carol. Every year we sat enthralled by these shows, watching them repeatedly and as avidly as if this was our first ever viewing of the program
Even the weekly series gave a passing nod to the holiday season: cowboys rescued animals and small children, Santa might make an appearance, who knew, anything was possible, and we loved it all.
However, none of these activities say ‘old fashioned’ to me. So I ask again, what is an old fashioned Christmas? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Where on earth can you find chestnuts these days? I remember eating and savoring chestnuts at Christmastime when I was a child. I also vaguely remember my mother placing some on the stovetop to heat them through. None of us kids really liked them toasted, we preferred them raw.
What else signifies an old-fashioned Christmas? Sleigh bells jingling? Snow on the pines?
When I think of an old-fashioned Christmas, I reach back 150 years or more in time. I remember reading the Laura Ingalls books, her Little House on the Prairie in particular, and how Laura and her family celebrated Christmas. If I recall, Laura received a tin cup with a penny in it, and she felt so blessed with that largesse. I also believe a neighbor rode over to the Ingalls’ cabin on his horse Christmas Night to deliver a handmade doll for Laura.
I can hear the commotion now if kids today received a tin cup with a penny nestled in the bottom as their one and only Christmas gift. But to me, that cup and penny shout loud and clear ‘old fashioned Christmas.’ That’s the sort of gift my grandparents and great grandparents received. They’d count their blessings for the small gift and never expect much more. Money didn’t flow then like it seems to flow now.
Aside from a few gifts, to me an old-fashioned Christmas also means a small cabin in the woods, the nearest neighbors down the road and out of earshot, and sharing Christmas with the wildlife that treks through the property.
So, I still feel my husband and I will celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas this year. We’ve already got snow on the pines. Our cabin sits nestled back on the hill somewhat protected from wind and weather. We won’t have neighbors drop by on horseback or arrive in a horse-drawn sleigh to visit us, nor will we eat roasted chestnuts. However, we have what we need, we are snug and warm in our cabin, and we’ve got enough wood for the wood stove to last for several winters. We don’t have extra money for frivolous items, so whatever we decide to gift the other will be simple, practical, and just maybe a little bit fun as well. We don’t need a tin cup, but we might need some other small item that will make our lives a bit easier.
We plan to decorate one of our outside pines and enjoy a living Christmas tree this year. We will redecorate that pine each Christmas for years to come. We’ll string a few lights to brighten dark December nights, maybe enjoy a special treat for Christmas Eve, and call it good. It WILL be good.
Wherever and however you decide to celebrate, Merry Christmas from our household to yours.