It’s hard to imagine that Christmas is just around the corner. Wasn’t it just July Fourth? It feels that life is going faster and faster and I want it to go slower and slower. The other day I watched Miracle on 34th Street, a Christmas classic on TMC which brought tears to my eyes. It so reminded me of the holidays I was part of as a child.
My mother would always take me to see the Christmas displays in the Macy department store windows in New York City. They were amazing, trains, puppets, Santa, his workshop and elves. I got to see Santa, sat on his lap and got my picture taken. We then went to Horn and Hardart Automat to get my favorite sandwich, tuna fish salad on white bread with pickles. Then we would walk down fifth avenue and look at all the other window displays and be in awe of some of the goods that we knew were out of our league. However, my mother never acted dismayed that she couldn’t afford what they were selling, she just enjoyed looking. Her mindset was that of an individual who survived the depression and her quest to save money was much more important to her. She often reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara, whose famous phrase, “I’ll never go hungry again”, seemed to be part of her persona.
There were no relentless commercials on television trying to seduce children and their parents to buy stuff. Even if there were my mother would have “pooh poohed” it. One of her comments comes to mind when I was married with kids and we went shopping for Christmas gifts. I thought the kids needed a lot of stuff. She gave me one of her looks and reminded me that ‘too much of a good thing is too much” and that I just might need that money to send them to college. She wasn’t against gift giving she just was not into excess.
I can still remember some of my Christmas toys, but don’t ask me where I put my glasses or car keys. I never got much but what I got lasted forever. I treasured them and still have a few of them. My grandfather made me a rocking chair that my children used. He also made me a doll house one Christmas that kept me busy for hours. I had my classic Red Flyer Wagon until it literally fell apart and my greatest treasure was a music box my mother gave me with records. I know she saved for sometime to buy it for me. It sits on my bureau and reminds me of her and the memories it provided. And after all isn’t that what the true gift of the holiday season is all about; memories that lift our spirits and stay with us throughout our lives.