Lots has changed about Christmas since I grew up, and even since Sara and Matt were children. When I was young Christmas was a religious holiday, and we went to church to see the baby Jesus in the manger. We had a replica of the manger at home, which we carefully set up each year along with the tree. That manger still exists, but it’s stored in a box at Sara’s, and no longer appears. Jerry’s and my marriage was a Jewish-Christian one, and we elected not to follow either religion. Christmas became a strongly family-oriented event — although I still set up the manger. We hosted an annual tree-decorating party at our house, with families who had kids the same age as ours, and we had a fire going, and served a festive meal. Our friends brought their favorite home made Christmas cookies for dessert. Christmas at Matt and Amy’s is secular too, and draws in the Danish tradition of serving ebelskivers for Christmas eve supper. This year, with Ben’s parents here, we added the Swiss-German tradition of Raclet for Christmas day dinner. Friends with kids were there on Christmas eve, to share presents and Santa.
Carolers often came by on San Gabriel Drive, and we opened the front door to listen to them, sing along, and wish Merry Christmas all around. That seems to happen less in Seattle.
We took Sara and Matt to Sibley’s in downtown Rochester to see Santa, and to see the store’s lavish Christmas display. McCurdy’s and Forman’s, the other two iconic Rochester department stores, also had Christmas lights and decorations and Santas, but we liked Sibleys best. Now, Santa can be contacted online, and stops at the house.
There’s a great deal more branded stuff now than there was when I was growing up, or when Matt and Sara were little. Legos aren’t just building toys; they are Star Wars themed, or Disney.
When I was growing up money was scarce, and if we were going to get something big — like skates or a bike — it came at Christmas. Jerry and I were able to get Sara and Matt those things throughout the year, when they were ready to use them, so we had to be more creative at Christmas. We were a board game family, so presents often included one or more games. Archie and Else, too, get things as they need them. But they still have Christmas lists, things they want — like Else’s princess dress, or Archie’s Seattle Seahawks Nutcracker. 🙂
I associate Christmas with cold weather, and maybe even snow. But they have Christmas trees in Panama too, usually fake ones, and they celebrate the holiday with a few gifts and by going to church. I hear from the Panama family at Christmas; they often send animated cards through WhatsUp or other kinds of messaging.
Musing about how life has changed is a function of aging, I think. Today’s round of pics follows — most have kids in them, so are password protected.