Christmas does funny things to you, most of them warm, some a little sad and misty. Christmas lights and falling snow always make you dream, mostly of when you were a kid--a time when there always seemed to be more snow drifts over your head and icicles so big you could use them as swords to defend your snow fort from invaders.
You dream more at Christmas time. As you sit in the living room with the fireplace keeping you warm, strange things begin to happen. The tree lights get bigger, they get out of focus, and youíre a kid once again. After living in Glace Bay, Canada, in the late 1940s and early í50s, we moved to Lakeburn to live in wartime housing just below the Moncton Airport where snowdrifts were higher than dadís 1941 Dodge. There really was more snow way back when. And Christmas was different. You got a roll of ďLifesaversĒ candies as a present, and no more than one or two dollars were left at church services. Parents cut the turkey in half so thereíd be something for New Yearís dinner.
Grapes and tangerines were bought only at Christmas. Grapes were 11 cents a pound and bread was 15 cents a loaf. The Ed Sullivan Show was a Sunday night ritual, we watched little Rickyís first Christmas with Lucy in a Santa suit, and Perry Como had his holiday season special. We always found things to do as we waited for Santa--watching cartoons by the hour on the new TV set (black and white on both channels), having snowball fights, making snow forts, lying in the snow to make angels.
Christmas Eve. It was always cold, white, peaceful, beautiful, and magical. Our parents always got mad because we couldnít get to sleep. What kid could?
Remember taking a spare bulb and slowly working your way through the set of lights to find the one that was burned out? Remember dumping cinders on the driveway for better traction? Remember Bing Crosby, Miracle on 34th Street, Gene Autry, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and Brenda Lee?
But now we have our own kids and our own traditions. Itís our responsibility to give our children things theyíll dream about as they sit by the fireplace and weíre the grandparents.
Some things donít change. They just get older and better. Christmas was probably commercial 50 years ago, but Christmas isnít money. Itís people. And hopefully weíll always be proud, as kids of all ages, to dream as we gaze at the holiday lights. And donít be upset as you dream. Itís true, you canít go back, but you can go home. Merry Christmas one and all!
Edited and reprinted from an article by J. T. James, Iowa York Rite News, Fall 1995