What do we most remember about our childhood holidays? As I was out walking this morning I thought about the scenes from past holiday seasons that are most memorable to me.
I recall singing carols around the piano after the big holiday meal with either my mother or father playing accompaniment while the rest of my siblings and extended family gathered close. We shared the words to old treasured songs, making our voices intertwine in beautiful, and sometimes humorous, sound. We would continue until the piano player grew weary or our stomachs called for dessert.
I loved making holiday cookies with my siblings. The shaping of dough with the beloved old cookie cutters; the invention of and mixing of the different colored icings; and the joy of opening all the sprinkle jars and adding them to the mix. The pleasure of eating our creations was secondary to the playing and joking around with those at the big kitchen table.
There are also many memories of crafting items with friends where we tried out different versions of gifts before we produced the final version. Macramé, knitting, crocheting, candle-making, sewing, drawing, writing, wrapping – each year brought a new craft to learn. Laughing at the less than perfect results and feeling pride when my companions thought perfection had been reached.
And, of course, the many marathon card games… the family game of Demon, a version of group Solitaire where each player had to use their own deck of cards, which spawned a diverse and large collection of packs to choose from. Each of us had our favorite “lucky” pack. A wild game would ensue, enhanced by the humming of the William Tell Overture as fast as possible to create even more of a sense of speed and urgency.
The common thread of these memories is the sense of community and camaraderie found in the group. Personal interaction, warmth, and a feeling of belonging are the important components of these gatherings. These are moments of people meeting and participating in a fun-filled activity. This is what we all remember.
So as you spend time alone driving to the malls and focusing on the ritual of unwrapping presents, remind yourself about what kind of memories you’d like to be creating for your family, your friends and, ultimately, for yourself. So what if the house isn’t perfectly clean? Who cares if there is an ideal hostess gift given? How many hours have we squandered driving, parking and negotiating crowds to find that the gift we were intent on purchasing didn’t really measure up to expectations?
Remember that community and good cheer with others is what gives meaning to holidays. It is the shared experience that we adore. Perhaps it would be better to use some of your hours listening and talking to your friends, laughing with your mother, playing a silly game with your daughter and grandchild.
Spend time at this yearend with those with whom you share interests; with those that you love; and with those with whom you can laugh. Happy holidays!
Copyright © 2011, Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.