Christmas In My Family From Then Until Now
Posted on December 3, 2020
My parents weren’t rich. We were comfortable, and we did a lot with…well, not a whole lot. My parents did what kids think parents are supposed to do without realizing we set expectations; they made holidays a little extra special. I was an only child, so I didn’t have to contend with splitting a holiday budget with siblings. My birthday is also in June, so I also didn’t have to contend with the whole “Hey, it’s your birthday and Christmas! Here’s your gift!” as a child. Yes, I was a bit spoiled. Okay, I’ll say it…I was spoiled.
We had a SEARS Christmas tree that went with me when I moved out of the house. I’d say that tree was a good 40 years old before it went. I loved that tree. I had history with that tree. Dad and I would climb up on a ladder into the attic each November, get the boxes down, and then the decorations. I’d hand him the branches and we’d have that tree set up in no time. Mom would come in, put the lights on, then we’d decorate it. Once I got to be the age of ten, I took over decorating the tree period. I enjoyed it, something I continue to enjoy to this day.
My folks also had a number of other Christmas decorations throughout the years. We had a cardboard fireplace that looked pretty cool, but didn’t survive nearly as long as the tree. I’d hold stencils up on our front window and Mom would spray fake snow on them. They always, always looked pretty, so it was a pity they were such a pain in the ass to scrape off after the holiday.
Waking up Christmas morning must have been a thing of exhaustion for my folks. Not so much for me. I was eager to jump up, put my robe on, quietly open my door, and sneak into the living room. I’d turn the tree lights on, sit down, and marvel at how Santa had visited. I’d wonder which packages he set down first, check to see if he ate the cookies I left (he always left a thank you note), and, of course, muse over what were in the immaculately wrapped boxes. Mom was a fantastic gift wrapper! That’s a quality I sadly lack. Ralph is quite good at it, though.
My parents would eventually get up as would the dog, they’d put water on for tea, and all while trying to settle my nerves to want to open gifts. It was Christmas morning, after all, so why was everyone so slow?
One of the years I remember most is when I received all the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century action figures, all the Star Wars figures I didn’t already have, and all the Battlestar Galactica figures. Yes, I was a sci-fi geek. I didn’t go without. I also never forgot their kindness.
Ralph and I moved into an apartment together sometime around 2000, and I set up the tree, Mom came over and put the lights on, and I’d decorate it. I’d also use some of my childhood decorations around the apartment until they were no longer useable. We’d invite both sets of parents over, and we’d make the most of what we had. I also took to trying to spoil my folks with Christmas gifts. I felt it was the least I could do, especially considering the years after Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
These are the holidays I hold closest to my heart. And even though I’m not a parent and won’t be in this lifetime, I’m content with what I had, and what I gave.
Can we all say that?
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.