Celebrating the season

I don’t know anyone who approves of starting the holiday season as soon as Halloween passes. Commercial interests can’t wait another minute, it seems, to flood their stores and advertising with Christmas-themed displays and special sales. The canned music can’t be far behind.

Yet despite our near-unanimous disapproval of this, we praise ourselves when we manage to get a head start on our gift shopping. Choirs have been rehearsing seasonal music for weeks now so they’ll be ready for those late-December special concerts and services. We complain about starting too early, but let’s admit that we love the season, well, most of us do, and participate in it with increasing enthusiasm as the days pass. Our excitement builds.

Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Christ, dominates the season for many of us, but definitely not all. Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days, this year falling on Dec. 2 to 10. Kwanzaa, which celebrates African culture, runs from Dec. 26 to New Year’s Day. Some Latino families celebrate La Posadas in the days leading to Christmas. These and others offer us reasons to celebrate, share good foods and exchange gifts.

As we age, we find comfort in our memories of holidays of our childhood and youth, and we like to pass on some of our family customs to our children and grandchildren. In our immediate family, we carried on the yarn tradition for many years, until our three daughters all married and moved into their own homes. It worked like this. Betsy and I attached to each child’s Christmas stocking a long line of yarn, which wound all around the house, under and around furniture, doorknobs, lamps, appliances, everywhere. As Betsy prepared breakfast in the kitchen, each daughter excitedly unwound her long string of yarn, stepping over or crawling under those of her sisters’, until it led to a special gift at its end. Lots of giggling and squeals of delight.

Those three kids are in their 50s now, with families of their own, creating their own unique private celebrations. It is likely that the Christmas morning yarn game and other specific Christmases as well will remain in their memories for the rest of their lives. With so many years behind me, my own Christmas memories tend to jumble together, but so many of them involve the season’s glorious music, both listening to it and singing it.

Like you, I grouse about starting the season too early, but I confess that once it starts, I don’t want it to end.



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