Holidays with the relatives were really a large part of our lives when I was a kid. The routine was something that just developed over the years, and I just wish I could remember when it all stopped happening. Much of my early life was during the Great Depression, and so there wasn’t much extravagant spending. My mom’s nine brothers and sisters and all their kids made for some pretty big crowds. Since she was the last one to marry and had the youngest brood, we did get a lot of attention from our cousins and their parents. Many times I was wearing something that had been handed down and nobody ever mentioned that fact. I remember there was a big old piano, and someone would play, while everyone sang holiday songs, and my dad would have to show that he could still play one tune — “Bow down to Washington!”
As our own little family grew and aged, we gradually started having our own family get-togethers. For many years, they were at my folks’ home, and then, they started coming to our house. Being the elder son, it was just something that happened naturally. Those old aunts and uncles gradually aged and passed away, and I think our house might have been the last holiday place that some of them ever attended. Over the years, my three brothers had their own families, and some of the holiday time was with all of them. Those holiday occasions were kind of what you might call “eat ins” with each family striving to out do, if not matching meals of past gatherings.
There are pictures of many of those holiday affairs, and it is fun to see the younger version of those who were there. Those little tykes are now the grandparents in today’s celebrations. Some of the traditions have survived, but the new age communications capabilities bring folks together even when they are thousands of miles away. I found some tapes of my own parents in their very senior years, and can’t imagine what they would think of the gifts and costs that we have these days.
While everyone has their own memories and beliefs, it is important that we pause to remember those who are not here. It is also time to vow that we will do all that we can to maintain the spirit and reason for getting together. There are those who want to take away the customary “Merry Christmas” greetings, and just say Happy Holidays. It surely violates the religious beliefs that we all have learned over the years.
No matter how it comes down, we can all concentrate in making sure that the young people have their own memories that bring joy to both the givers and receivers of gifts that reflect our respect for one another and concern for people all over the world, who are pursuing their own beliefs and seeking the same freedom that we have in our country. Things are never perfect, but you don’t have to look very hard to find folks working together to make life better for those who are without or suffering and those efforts usually go on all through the year.
Merry Christmas to everyone, and you should know that even “Old Geezers” have a great time remembering their own and working to help those who need a little boost at this special time of the year! Our next challenge will be to do everything we can to make it a Happy New Year!