Why Can’t Christmas Be Like It Used To Be?
Dr. James Spinnati
Who could forget the Christmases of their youth? I remember it as if were yesterday. I can walk downtown in my mind and see all the lights, decorations, and the crowds of people window shopping. The sidewalk would be full of smiling faces with people actually greeting each other and saying; God forbid, “Merry Christmas”. We didn’t give a lick about being politically correct back then and most my age could care less about it now! Christmas in yesteryear was a fantasy come true. All those of this present age who love the malls have never experienced a true Christmas. In fact I feel sorry for you because you have never encountered the true joy and excitement of the season. Those who walked down those same streets that I walked down know what I am talking about; it was truly magical. Storefront windows were decorated with the reason for the season. Music, lots of music, with real carols being sung. And this will blow you young puppies minds people even greeted each other and there was no one, I mean no one, taking a selfy! The downtown area was lit up like the fourth of July in all its glory.
I remember going with my dad to pick out just the right tree. We would search and search and then there it would be. We would then tie it on top of the car and proudly display it to every passerby as we would drive home. I guess I’m like the guy who saw an advertisement for a fake-real tree. What is a fake real tree anyway? It just doesn’t get you excited. I miss a real tree! I miss the smell of real pine in the house; don’t you? That spray stuff is all right, but what red blooded American wouldn’t want a real tree? Let us just face it; Glade just doesn’t do the job. You know I was just thinking; just the thought of a fake tree is un-American; isn’t it?
I miss the excitement of waiting for Christmas day to arrive. Christmas Eve was special at our house when I was growing up too. Every Christmas eve my dad would have a Sicilian fish fry with everything. It was a tradition that my family still carries on today. There would be shrimp, white fish, squid, and every other kind of fish and food you could think of. Usually my Aunt Glady would come over with my cousin Jeannie Kay and we would chase her around the living room with the tentacles of the squid hanging out of our mouths. They would bring so many presents that our living room would be scattered with bow covered packages. On Christmas Eve dad would always get his shot gun out and tell us that he was waiting on Santa Claus because he was costing him too much money. We would beg dad not to shoot Santa and finally he would agree not to hurt him, but only for this year. Christmas Eve was the one day out of the year that our parents didn’t have to threaten us to get us to go to bed Then we would wake-up at 4 or 4:30 and beg our parents to let us see what we had gotten for Christmas.
Then I grew up and the excitement came from another source. It was the excitement of seeing my five children jumping for joy at the sounds of Christmas and reading “The Night Before Christmas”. Even when Lisa was four years old she could tell the story by heart. I remember her eyes would twinkle as she went through the motions of telling it. Every Christmas our children would stand at the top of the stairs waiting for us to turn on the lights of the tree so they could come down! Now maybe I’m getting old but I have been wondering lately, “Why can’t Christmas be like it used to be?”
You know what makes the good old days the good old days? It’s a lousy memory! Why is it that when you think of Christmases past you only think, of the good times? Now think back at the times that you were disappointed. l remember the year that I never got the Red Ryder BB rifle that I had asked Santa for. Boy you talk about being depressed. But maybe the worst year that we ever had was when the Dooley’s came to visit for Christmas. Who were the Dooley’s? They were my cousins from the Mafia side of the family. I said they were our cousins because after that Christmas I disinherited them. They broke up every toy that my brother Frank and I had. Two days later when they left we declared a national holiday, but all I had to show for it was a toy truck without any wheels.
For some reason when you think about Christmases past as an adult you forget about the hateful task of putting toys together! How many times have you opened the instructions only to find that they had been written in Japanese or Chinese? I have learned to beware of the ones that say ——- “SIMPLY”! When those words appear at the top of the instruction sheet, you had better figure you’re in for a long night. And how many times have you wrapped a present only to have a wide eyed child unwrap it and find that you had forgotten the batteries?
No, brothers and sisters Christmas doesn’t always come with batteries. I guess I always expect more of Christmas then I should. Maybe we will never have the perfect Christmas, but why oh why should we expect more than that first Christmas? Just think about it, Mary was pregnant outside of wedlock. She must have heard the gossips of her day and the remarks that they made. Joseph had heard of Mary’s infidelity and was thinking about putting her away, but he married her after God’s intervention. Taxes were high that first Christmas and they were going higher. The Roman IRS had called for a census and Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a trip that covered more than 90 miles. Think how hard that trip was to be especially considering that Mary was pregnant and close to delivering! Maybe the Bethlehem Bus Line was on strike too; and for some reason other public transportation wasn’t available in those days. How would you have liked to have been Mary and Joseph when they arrived in Bethlehem only to find no vacancy signs hung from every motel in town? It was not a perfect situation because Mary had to deliver the child in a manger. She even had to lay her new born son in a cattle feeding trough.
After seeing the trials and tribulation of that very first Christmas I don’t want you to expect too much from this Christmas. Listen, if the very first Christmas was less than ideal, why should we expect anything different? You know after writing this article I don’t think we have anything to complain about. So why don’t we do like those who participated in that very first Christmas and bless others. Why? Because if you just take a minute and look around, you’ll realize just how blessed you are.
I want you to do five things this Christmas season:
1. Take time to reflect on the difference Christ’s birth has made in your life, your family, and the world in which we live.
2. Think what the world would be like if Jesus was never born.
3. Question the superficial values of our culture.
4. Make room for those who have grown apart from you and reach out to them. Remember it is Christmas; a time of giving.
5. Pause and remember what Christmas is really about. It is not about toys, gifts, or decorations. It is all about Jesus!