Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I think it probably always has been even when I was growing up. My parents created a wonderful Christmas experience for me and I will always love Christmas because of it. But it's different now, isn't it? It's more commercial, starts earlier and sometimes we are burnt out from all of the fun activities long before Christmas actually arrives. It's still my favourite, though. Hands down. Here's some things that have changed about it since I was a kid.
Christmas then: Real trees. Was it really Christmas if you didn't trudge through a bush and analyze about 50 different evergreens before coming to a consensus and chopping one down to drag back through the bush to the car? And then the struggle to get the branches cut down to size and the tree onto the stand (poor Dad, that was not an easy job). And then to trim it. With eggnog and Christmas chocolates. Well, we didn't trim it with eggnog and chocolates. But you get the idea. And, oh! The smell. Love that pine smell. It almost makes up for stepping on pine needles for the next two weeks.
Christmas now: Artificial trees. Yes, despite forever missing the smell of pine, I've given up on getting a real tree, as I know many people have. It's just so much less work, less mess and you can put it up way earlier. But I still sometimes miss that real-tree smell. So I go over to my parent's house to enjoy theirs.
Christmas then: The decorations. Were all highly breakable and would shatter with the smallest wrong movement. They were often oblong and full of colour, and designs made of sparkly swirls. They were vintage. Well, they weren't at the time, I guess, but they sure are now. And then there was the tinsel. To be applied individually on each branch for optimum sparkliness. Worth all the time you spent just to see that tree shimmer.
Christmas now: The decorations. We have to go all classy these days and with a colour theme. You almost need an interior design degree to get it right. Luckily, I don't care. We like the '80s look to our tree. And tinsel? Forget about it. Who has time for that? Isn't it a fire hazard anyways? And of course Fido might eat it and have it get caught in his intestines. So tinsel is out.
Christmas then: The Christmas specials. Let me tell you that we watched the TV Guide pretty faithfully in the weeks leading up to Christmas (yes, I mean the paper TV guide that came with the newspaper). And then you blocked off the time that Rudolph or Charlie Brown was playing because, there was no pausing live TV.
Christmas now: Christmas is on Netflix. Yep. You can find pretty much anything you want on Netflix or you can record it from a TV channel and watch it whenever it's convenient. No need to watch commercials, either. But that's OK, because we don't want the kids to see any more toy commercials anyhow.
Christmas then: Christmas lists and shopping. Sit down with the Sears catalogue. Circle all your favourites and hope Santa gets the memo. Parents head to the little town plaza and make their purchases at one of the big (for then) department stores.
Christmas now: Christmas lists and shopping. No more Sears catalogue. It was a Christmas icon. But it's no more. So the children write letters to Santa using any random small toy flyers that have come to the house. You browse Amazon every night for the next two months and end up buying way too much. The good news is you can save some for their birthday.
Christmas then: Snow birds. A bird lands on your window sill. You parents remind you that Santa sends snowbirds every now and then to check in on you and make sure you're being good. You can accept that.
Christmas now: The dang elf. Yep, it's elf season people. The elf is apparently there watching your kids 24/7 to keep them in line. Creepy. I've never actually told my kids the elf is watching them. It's just too weird. To them it's just a nice game of hide and seek. Where will the elf be today? But rather than just having to comment on random birds landing on windowsills, parents today are having to spend hours on Pinterest researching new elf ideas — and even so we still end up waking up in horror at 3 a.m. when we remember that we forgot about our elf.
Christmas then: The gifts. I think in all my childhood, I only got one electronic gift, and it was a calculator. But, dang, I loved that calculator. The rest were toys, because really... we were kids.
Christmas now: The gifts. Every year it seems common to think of what electronic gift will be part of the kid's Christmas. A camera? A speaker? A smart watch? It seems that Christmas gift buying isn't complete without the electronic gift these days. And I'm pretty sure this will only get more pronounced as they get older.
So there are definitely ways in which Christmas now is different from Christmas then. I love them both. Each type of Christmas, new and old, gives me the same warm fuzzies. I'm grateful to my parents for creating such wonderful Christmas memories for me and I'm so happy that we can create our own special memories and feelings for our kids. I wonder what they'll be saying about Christmas when they are my age.
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