Christmas for old times sake.

Every year without fail it comes. It’s that time of year again when my nerves become as jangled as old St. Nick’s jingle bells.

I can’t help it. I’ve tried, but to no avail. Every December 25th, right after all the wrapping paper has been torn off of all the presents (usually a TON of them…really…) I start saying to myself: “next year, I am not putting myself through the strain of trying to get so much…to do so much” but, when next year rolls around…..this year now, I start getting that feeling down in my gut that I am just not going to have enough dough, ray, mi to get what I feel like I need to get. Sometimes it get’s to the point where it downright depresses me.

I know when I was a kid, a lot of my best memories of Christmas were, or course at my Grandparent’s home. But, I guarantee you right now that they were a site simpler Christmases than now. One year that I remember really vividly was back in the mid 60’s I guess. We didn’t usually go up there until a few days before Christmas day. And guess what? Grandma didn’t have her Christmas stuff already out! That’s right; she didn’t get it out the day after Halloween like some of us do now. She didn’t have too much stuff anyway. One medium size cardboard box and that was it.

For some unknown reason that year, I went out with Grandma to cut a tree. Grandma was appointed to all that kind of stuff because of Grandpa’s arthritis in his knees. I can’t remember when he didn’t have it. Besides, he was the type who thought if Grandma needed a tree, then SHE should be the one to get it. We walked for a good piece, up and down some rolling hills. Finally, Grandma spotted a little pine tree. It was about a 4 footer, and had pretty, fully needled limbs. We took the saw and cut it down, and I drug it back to the house. Out came the cardboard box, and my brother and I, and Grandma put on the decorations. Everyone else just sort of hung back and watched. It was great fun! We had to be oh so careful with those glass ornaments, and even had to replace one or two of those big old bulbs on the one strand of red lights that she owned.

When we were through, and plugged in the lights, that little pine became transformed into a veritable “Times Square” beauty. I don’t think it would have won any contests of ANY kind. But for us, it was good. Very good.

My brother and I usually only had two or three presents each at Christmas. There was one “main” present, which usually never exceeded a twenty dollar price tag. Then there were a couple of smaller ones. Grandpa always delivered, with a stocking full of fruit. Oranges, apples, sliced orange candy, peppermint sticks (the soft ones) and all types of assorted nuts. I really looked forward to that stocking! Then, when we visited O’ Zion Baptist Church for their Christmas program, we ended up getting that wonderful brown paper bag full of the same kinds of goodies. The sliced orange candy was ALWAYS my favorite!

I don’t know when things changed, but somewhere along the line they certainly did. The stores all have gotten larger. Then of course we have had the development of Wal-Mart, the king of merchandising. With them around to push the small Mom and Pop businesses into bankruptcy, the way that Christmas has been perceived and promoted has changed tremendously. Every year it’s pushed up by a day or two. It used to be that it was right after Thanksgiving before you saw anything “Christmas” come out. Then, they moved it up a couple of weeks. They have kept moving and moving it until now the Trick or Treater’s are not off of the streets and into their beds, before the Christmas stuff comes out.

It’s not the same stuff either. I looked and looked the other day to try and find something that wasn’t made in China. I finally did. It was made in Viet Nam. I went through a JC Penney store the other day and looked at clothing and found made in Egypt, Viet Nam, Peru, Nicaragua, Singapore, South Africa, etc. You name it. The only thing I found in the whole store in 30 minutes of looking that was made in the U.S., was good old “Cannon” towels.

Well, back where I started. The feeling in the gut. It’s a little worse than usual this year. My situation is a little tenuous, and money is going to be really short. This MAY just be the year when I am forced to do what I think about every year and cut back. Besides, I am not really sure that I want to make China’s economy any better than it already is…or Viet Nam’s for that matter.

Maybe I should go out in the woods and cut down a little old pine tree, just for old time’s sake. (If the pulp wood guys haven’t gotten them all!)