By Judy Reiss
Now that most of our fall or Leaf Season activities are over, it is now the beginning of the Holiday Season. Actually I hate not to call the season Christmas. In fact I always say Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays. And I do that for two reasons. Probably first and foremost it is because since the day one, America has been considered a Christian country. Now whether it actually is depends on what you consider Christian activities. I am not sure that many Christians consider their behavior Christian-like or not. Our last election for president is a good case in point. And the other reason I say Merry Christmas is because I have absolutely no objection to every other religion to celebrate the holiday that is part of their religion. Believe it or not, when I was young and went to a plain old public elementary school then junior high and high school we did celebrate any and all holidays. I don’t remember now but I can’t think of any holiday that we ignored. Nobody ever discussed the holidays and all of us kids entered into the holiday and nobody considered it offensive or inappropriate. And believe me, things were a lot more Christian and pleasant back then.
What I don’t understand now is that many religions are now given the right to say and celebrate their religious traditions and no one minds. However, Christmas, which is a Christian tradition, or at least it used to be, is considered off limits in a public school! I am sorry but if you are offended if I greet you with Merry Christmas, please excuse an old woman who will be happy to receive any or every response you might want to give me.
Now that I have the Christmas responses off my chest, let’s talk about the holiday itself and how it affects our children. I suppose it is sort really irrelevant to discuss Christmas when I was young because it really doesn’t relate anymore. We also had many wishes of gifts from Santa Claus and we all knew if we were good boys and girls he would come and under our tree would be a parcel or two. We also hung our stockings by the fireplace and when morning came, it would be chock a block full of little gifts. And even better, we all got an orange in the toe of the stocking and if we were really lucky we got a coin under the orange. What else did we get? Well, toothpaste and a new toothbrush, a golden bag of chocolate and other small items that we probably needed and it was all topped off by a big candy cane.
I vividly remember the year I got a refurbished “girl” doll that my mother had sent to the doll hospital and she got a new eye and a new wig! And my mother also made her several outfits including a fur coat. I thought that I was the luckiest girl in the world. Was I disappointed because everything was either secondhand or handmade? Absolutely not. I never even considered that a “store bought” doll was possible. I don’t believe a refurbished doll would be acceptable in today’s world. The same year, my little brother got a Tonka cement mixer. And he was thrilled and never thought that I got two things and he only got one
Do you think that the children of today would be satisfied with an orange and perhaps only one toy? And if they had wanted some expensive electronic toy and didn’t get it, would they be satisfied with what they did get? It would seem that Christmas isn’t a time of giving and receiving gifts that someone wants to give you. Nope, it feels like children anticipate receiving any and all things their hearts desire, regardless of the need or the cost. I don’t really think that it is the fault of the children. Most little children are so excited that Santa Claus is actually going to come that the gift they receive is only secondary. And the older children know what to expect because they have been down this road before. And no longer do the children put on their party clothes and go with their parents to Grandma’s house for dinner. A dinner which is served at a table and each family member sits together and behaves perfectly. Imagine it as a family dinner with no iPhones and no one texting or playing a game while at the table! That sounds like a fairy tale doesn’t it?
So, think about this. Everyone can say Merry Christmas or whatever else they might wish to say; anything but Happy Holidays. And as Christmas approaches everyone thinks about the one gift they really, really want. Not 15 or 30 but just one, a perfect gift. When Santa comes and eats the cookies that were left for him and he fills the stockings with fruit candy and maybe a coin in the toe. And under the tree, lo and behold is the most wonderful gift of all.
And the most wonderful gift of all, no one, not a single person was angry! And going as a family to Grandma’s to join other family members for a wonderful dinner, all together! Norman Rockwell would just love the whole day! And Merry Christmas seems comfortable to say and just right!