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A simple Christmas is the one that will be remembered

            Christmas arrives Saturday and we have survived all the rushing around and prepping for the big day, no small feat, especially with the accompanying surge in COVID.

            With all the hustle and bustle to get ready for Christmas, it’s nice to notice a collective quiet on Christmas morning. If you’ve ever traveled our streets on Christmas morning — perhaps over the river and through the woods or just across Highway 515 to grandma’s house, the stillness in an otherwise bustling, traffic-filled town is beautiful.

            We’ve done all the hard work – buying (or making) gifts to present to our loved ones – as the Wise Men brought gifts to baby Jesus – wrapping those gifts in beautiful, sparkly paper and topping them with festive bows.

            We’ve spent time buying all the ingredients for those old-fashioned family recipes that we turn to every year as we gather around the table to celebrate with family and friends. Now, as Christmas Day draws near, we can sit back and enjoy the time with those we love. And maybe this year – and all the ones going forward – we can remember that the quiet of Christmas morning is really what we long for in the first place.

            While the tradition of gift giving has its roots in the story of the original Christmas, looking back at photos of Christmases long ago we are reminded what a simple thing it once was. What we wanted for Christmas was  a rather short list of things. And what we got was typically the simplest thing of all – possibly an orange thrown in our stockings or something our mothers thought we needed (we’re remembering those stockings stuffed with socks).

            The intent was the same as it is now, but the means were much fewer. We have countless holiday memories, most of them centered around faith, family and traditions. When we reflect back to our childhoods, how many of us remember the actual gifts we received on Christmas morning and how many of us remember simply being around those we love?

            It’s not so much about the gifts and more about the experiences and the memories of those experiences.

            We remember desperately trying to shoo the little ones to bed on Christmas Eve, not the gifts Santa brought. As time goes by and we collect more and more Christmases, it’s the memories of being with family and friends more than the gifts – no matter how big or expensive. The simplest things give the greatest happiness.

            Today so often we feel cheated by the Christmases we are having. So rushed, so busy, that we can’t relax and enjoy the season. And, of course, capturing the perfect image to post on social media so everyone will see how joyous our family celebration was.

            This week when we sit down with our families why not focus on reviving some old traditions? Sing some carols, watch a favorite Christmas movie, prepare a special meal. It’s the memories that will sustain us, not the gifts.

            Christmas is filled with memories. The smell of Christmas trees and going to pick out the perfect decoration, stringing lights in the yard, putting out a nutcracker. We remember the look of delight on our children’s faces when they walk downstairs

            One personal favorite is taking some older relatives out for nighttime drives to look at lights.

            And in the words of our newest columnist, Kathy Fellows, who recently wrote: “Folks can we all stop with the spending and buying unnecessary gifts and just cherish the simplicity of family and friends, and just give from our hearts? Spend time together. Visit. Let the kids play with each other. Just keep it simple. That’s what they will remember.”

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