Well, Christmas is over at last. The hurculean annual frenzy is laid to rest. The decorations are down and the Christmas tree is in the garden waiting to be unceremoniously dumped! I am still recovering from the onslaught of it all. The preparations, the cooking, the shopping -- the everything.
For many years I have believed it would be a great idea to have Christmas every four years -- to coincide with Leap Year. Then we'd have an extra day to get ready. Of course most men haven't a clue about this -- and whenever we try to explain it to them they get this horrible look on their faces that it might cost money and please just get on with it and stop complaining -- oh and keep me out of it!
I grew up in the USA. One of the great benchmarks of the American Calendar is Thanksgiving. It helps keep the season under control -- at least calendar-wise. This is also true in many European countries that don't have any decorations up in the stores until Advent. In England the madness starts before Halloween. Mid-October. In the past few years my Thanksgiving benchmark was to have all my presents bought by Thanksgiving. Didn't work this year.
Also I don't want to cook anymore than absolutely necessary on Christmas Day. Ideally, I would be eating out on that day, but the looks of horror on my husband and sons faces of not being home for the big Meal is best not described. But I'm the cook and I try to make it easy on myself -- no roast turkey and all the trimmings. No argument about this because we've just had it all for Thanksgiving anyway. We have fillet of beef (30 minutes in the oven) twice baked potatos (made in advance and frozen) a vegetable casserole (made the day before in need of reheating) bearnaise sauce (made in advance) and a Yule log (made before and frozen till the day). Also, I've trained my boys to share in the serving and cooking.
So, I've taken care of Christmas Day. But not the rest of it. Not the relatives visiting -- and a joy it is to have them -- the present wrapping and last minute shopping, the decorating -- this year, I could not get enthusiastic about the tree -- fortunately youngest son took care of that!
The thing is though -- I still remember the days when there was such a thing as 'Christmas Spirit' -- people don't really talk about that anymore. I am so old that I remember when each year right after Thanksgiving the little Carol books would appear for our music lessons in school. I can't quite picture the cover except that it was a night time snow scene with carolers. The first carol was, I think, Silent Night. We sang all the carols in the book -- and they were all there. We didn't really need the booklets for the first verses, we all knew them by heart.
For me, it's a sad cultural loss that our children no longer have that experience. Oh, they do to some extent if they go to Sunday School -- but then it's once a week. The Christian Culture is not just about creed, nor is the culture of any religion. I understand the motivation behind political correctness and the separation of church and state. But it seems that political correctness does not have to mean the exclusion of this part of our cultural history, but rather could mean the inclusion of a wider range of cultural history.
Christmas is now about celebrating. Politicians of Correctness now are using terms to deny the religiousity of the day. So what are we celebrating? Is 'Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men' still an acceptible message for our children?
Is the Spirit of Christmas no more than the Ghost of Christmas Past.