Grandpa Points: Smileage Runs, My Christmas Journey
This little article is about my personal Christmas experiences as, for me, the Christmas Season is very much a journey to look forward to each year. It may or may not be a journey that requires planes, trains or automobiles, but it is a trip (down memory lane) to be savored all the same.
My Christmas travels have always been short in distance, measured in blocks rather than miles. But my journeys through Christmas have been broad in scope and have taken me to the grandest of vistas, the most exciting of locales, the most colorful of experiences and as far and as wide as my imagination would allow. I have been to Fantasyland, Magicland, Wonderland, Futureland, Candy Caneland, Joyland, Toyland, Dreamland and The North Pole (many times). My trips might certainly be described as the ultimate "Smileage Runs." considering the happiness and joy I have derived from them.
I look forward to, plan for and get excited about each approaching Christmas season with the same thrill as I do with upcoming future travels. It is important to me to have an event, a trip or an experience on the horizon to work toward and dream about. Christmas is one of those constants I can rely and depend on.
I am a child of Christmas. I was born at Christmastime as was my brother, daughter and a granddaughter with the middle name of Noel. Our family calendar is divided into two parts. January through June is A.C. (After Christmas) and July through December is B.C. (Becoming Christmas). Our family blood runs the normal red most of the year but, as the days turn shorter, a distinct green also starts coursing through our veins. By November, a blood sample will look like a brilliantly happy red/green liquid candy cane.
I am now on the cusp of turning 70 years of age. But, at Christmastime, I am as much child as I am adult. I inherited, I was blessedly granted through birth, the magic and the power of believing. My parents, from the beginning, made Christmas a big deal. It was, it is, a time of secrets planned, secrets kept, traditions followed and surprises rendered. It was decorations and lights, ornaments and icicles.
It was "wish books" and "toy books" and a creation of mystery and mystique. It was piling into the car "to look at lights" and driving to Foley's and Sears to see their annual window wizardry.
It was a ceiling scraping Christmas tree under which (for a highly effective dramatic effect) no presents were placed until Santa came on Christmas Eve. Everything was done to make Christmas a fun, exciting, joyous, special, memorable annual seasonal experience to be cherished and looked forward to. We were from a family of very modest means but, at Christmas, we had the greatest of riches and the most expansive of treasure.
I believe in Christmas. It is, to our family, a truly special time of the year. We were nurtured by our parents with all the trappings of The Season; the real and the imagined, the tangible and the abstract, the believable and the unbelievable. We have successfully passed this gift down to our children and they to theirs.
In Christmas we find excitement, anticipation, joy, hope and a connection to our youth and its innocence. We find memories and traditions, poignancy and depth. A brilliant example of this is in the movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" when Clark Griswold gets unwittingly stuck in the attic. There he uncovers hidden and forgotten gifts of Christmases past and he finds old home movies that he watches alone in silence with only his own memories, tears and smiles to keep him company.
To us, Christmas is family. It is a generational common denominator that we share with and among each and every other family member. Love and laughter flows as easily as the chaser lights on our Christmas tree.
We reminisce about the good ol' days and about family members no longer with us. We also create new and lasting images and memories as family members are added to both share in and eventually perpetuate the rich tradition. Yesterday and tomorrow blend like a fine wine.
Our family has always fervently and passionately protected and promoted the whimsical spirit, the magical element of Santa Claus and all that he represents. For us, Santa is a symbol of goodness and happiness. Of dreams still attainable, wishes still fulfillable and an innocence still in full bloom. Santa means sharing and giving in, oh, so many ways. Be it simply in offering a seasonal salutation, a pleasant gesture, an unexpected gift, a random act of kindness, a heartfelt thank you or spreading holiday cheer with the stringing of lights that others may enjoy.
We revere Christmas for the joy it brings to children. For in the eyes of a child, we see a reflection of ourselves when anything was possible and when the power of belief was unabridged and unabated.
We want our descendants to know that feeling, to feel that excitement, to ride that wide-eyed wave of wonderment and wow that can and should come with Christmas. I have never seen a white Christmas but when I close my eyes (or go out the front door when the fake bubble snow machine is on) I can see it as clearly and as surely as anyone, anywhere.
When Christmas carols fill the air, my voice mysteriously becomes harmonious and on key. As December nears, my pulse quickens, my smile widens and an extra twinkle can be found in my eye. And on Christmas Eve, I won't need to see if reindeer really know how to fly because, as you know, I believe.
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