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Christmas: The Same, Yet Different

December 11, 2012 - Steve Schulwitz
I love the Christmas season. I love the Christmas music, the classic Christmas television specials and movies and I love the decorations scattered along the city's streets and sidewalks. I love Christmas so much that at least one of my friends, Denise Flewelling, has tagged me as Mr. Christmas.

Christmas and the way it is celebrated by my family however has changed somewhat over the course of time. The house which used to be packed with the entire family and people who just dropped in to take in the celebration just seems a lot more empty during the holiday now. Part of that is because after the loss of my grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins the size of our family shrank and there just aren't as many people to celebrate with. Still the memories of Christmas from when I was young will always be among my favorite.

I will always remember my grandfather and his brothers entertaining the family with violins, guitars and them allowing me to tap the tambourine while the rest of the family sang the words to Christmas carols and our favorite polka songs until Santa would make his way to the home and visit the kids and torment my sister Pennie. Now my step-daughter Caitlynn has taken over her aunt's role as the child afraid of Santa and as I did with my sister, I still think it's funny, but overall the celebration during Christmas today is much more mild.

Don't get me wrong. There is still a great deal of activity at my parents house, which was previously my grandparents, and the surroundings are the same, but something is just so different. Maybe it is my age.

The highlight of the night is still watching the kids open their gifts, but even they are getting older and I know it is just a matter of time before there will be another shift in the way the holiday will be celebrated. I am even more fearful on how we will celebrate Christmas after my parents pass. I think my brother, sister , the grandchildren and I owe it to my grandparents and our parents to keep the family tradition as strong as possible in years ahead. Actually I have sort of made that one of my personal goals, after all, I am Mr. Christmas and if I can't do it who can?

Last week I had the pleasure of talking to four local people who are in their nineties and I asked them to describe what Christmas was like when they were children. For the most part, each answered the same. They shared with me that Christmas and the celebration of it was always centered on Christ and then a large gathering of family. It was the memories they had of the time with their family they said they cherish the most today, not the gifts.

Their stories really impacted me and helped me to put Christmas and what it is truly about back into the perspective it needs to be. This Christmas I am going to do my best to be sure the future of long-standing, family Christmas traditions remain in place moving ahead and hope that the next generation in our family will do the same and pass it on to their children and their children's children. That way the traditions and those who started them, will be remembered long after even when I am gone.


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