I am not sure when we age if the Christmas holidays become more or less significant. As a child, I couldn’t wait for December 25th. It seemed after Thanksgiving, it would never get here. The excitement was waking up Christmas morning to experience what Santa Claus had brought. Even when I knew about Santa, my family continued to celebrate his arrival. We exchanged gifts within the family, but Santa still took center stage.
When I became a parent,Christmas excitement returned. I was just as excited as when I was a child to give my daughter that magical time of Santa Claus’s arrival. Sitting next to the tree until late hours, assembling those toys, bicycles, etc. was never a chore; it was fun. I always made sure I consumed the milk and cookies she set out for Santa. I always left one cookie with a bite taken out as evidence of Santa’s arrival. To watch the excitement on her face when she saw what Santa had brought created memories never forgotten.
When my daughter left home, my Christmases changed and we created new traditions. Mid-night Mass took precedence over anything else. A Christmas without going to church seemed empty and incomplete. Waking up Christmas morning without Santa’s visit also left a void. Not every year did she come home for Christmas, yet when she did those seemed extra special.
Next, were the years when my daughter became an adult and she lived in the area. Christmas tradition changed again. Church services on Christmas Eve remained foremost. Nevertheless, we always shared Christmas dinner with her. When she became busy with her friends, she often cooked the dinner and she invited us. If she had a special person in her life, Christmas dinner was at our house and we invited him.
A few years ago, my daughter married and she now lives a distance that makes it difficult for her to return home. To visit her is equally problematic. Christmas tradition has changed once again. What hasn’t changed is going to Mid-night Mass. We still feel it isn’t Christmas without attending church. Christmas Day finds us having dinner at a friend’s or our home, and sometimes we go out. The exchanging of gifts is now absent. The money we would spend, we use to buy something special we both want.
This year, my daughter and her husband have a new son. It will be interesting to see what traditions she chooses. Will she carry those traditions I experienced as a child and carried forward to her childhood? Will she create her own? When my grandson gets a little older, that excitement of Christmas morning will return and maybe I might get to experience it with him.
For the last 33 years, what has been significant is the person I share Christmas with. My life partner and now husband has been that solidarity in my life that was missing. Beginning with our first Christmas, what contributed to making them special was sharing them with him. He adapted to the changing traditions as I did and we made each Christmas that special time of the year. Spending a Christmas without him is a tradition I hope I don’t experience for a long time.
Now I ask again, does the Christmas holidays become less significant as we age? For me the answer is no. Our traditions have change, but the significance never wavers. Santa through the years took on an important role. However, celebrating the coming of Christ each year by attending Mid-night Mass will always be a significance and a tradition that will never change.