Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Joy

Recent television commercials advice me how to “make this your happiest Christmas ever”; and another ‘Make it a memorable Christmas”. Of course the gist is …. Just purchase the product and you will have the best Christmas ever – without the product --- well there is just no guarantee! Really!?

I may be very old fashioned but I consider Christmas a privilege --- It is indeed a privilege that those around me allow me to share with them the all the best of my ‘house and home’!

The Christmas season has provided me with so many wonderful memories I don’t know where to begin –- but let me begin by saying they did not include a present or specific gift to make them memorable or ‘best’.

My earliest recollection is of a snowy Christmas evening when I was four years old. I had received a doll’s crib for Christmas … I can still see the blue colour of this little crib…. But the memory remains because of my father and the patience and tolerance he bestowed upon me and that crib. I was so full of excitement it had to be shown to everyone …. And so here he was carrying this crib from home to grandparents homes, to friends of grandparents, to aunts and uncles. Walking all across town with this toy under his arm. I still see him in the evening light with snow falling on his cap, drawing on his hand rolled cigarette and me by his side.

Every Christmas day since has reproduced the magic of this moment. He didn’t have to cart that crib all over town …. By the way, we walked, we didn’t have a car, and I am talking miles across town. And unknown to me …. He had built the crib and I am certain he was asking himself 'why'! My stepdad, me, the crib, the magical Christmas evening with snow softly falling,

He was like a child at Christmas; his joy of the season was so contagious. The air was electrified with his enthusiasm....he would return from shopping trips with a beaming smile as he endeavoured to stow paper parcels in hiding, as he unpacked groceries hard earned and the best on the shelf.  Christmas did not include expensive gifts and toys but encompassed all his best and heart. He considered it a privilege and honour to share his best at this time of year, not only with family but with those who may be less fortunate. His ‘best’ beverage was a home made crock of wine; actually more like a sherry. As fruit was preserved in the fall; soft spots and peelings were placed in a small clay crock and fermented, siphoned off just before Christmas; tasted and tested and stored with delight.  This he shared with his siblings, their wives, and friends presented in tiny little liquer glasses. The delight and joy he received in this sharing …. His face positively shone. This from a man who was a non-drinker …. Sharing with brothers and sisters who had liquor closets. He didn’t need to purchase the most expensive bottle from the store shelf …. He only had to produce his best to share with others; with generosity and joy in the privilege of sharing.

He supplied his washed work socks for us to hang on a line …. And the look of joy on his face when we emptied the socks to find the reddest, shiniest apple ever, along with an orange, a handful of nuts to be cracked open later and some cream candies and a candy cane!

I have many, many wonderful Christmas memories and perhaps that is why I delight in this season

With limited budgets my mother always found the ‘exactly perfect’ gift for each person … something you could not ever in your wildest dreams imagine. They were not the latest, greatest, most advertised, guaranteed to ‘produce the best Christmas ever’ items …. They were purchased with care, thought and love for each individual on the list. One item only and it was always the ‘best’ my parents could imagine.

The hand knitted mittens and scarves from grandparents were treasured Christmas gifts …. Sometimes these had been knitted from wool re-carded from an old woolen garment. They were warm, they had been knitted for ‘you’, specifically for you = with love in every stitch. And, most importantly they were wrapped and gifted with ‘love’. You can’t find that in a department store.

My father’s Christmas spirit lives with me every Christmas season. I can still hear his joy at welcoming family and friends to his home and his sincere and hearty ‘Merry Christmas’; the thrill he derived offering his best…..I still see the Christmas lights shining in his face. I still see the handmade gifts carefully wrapped under the tree. I still feel the love of those early Christmas mornings long ago. I can never give what he gave to us; our Christmas season is less without him and his spirit of the season; but I will continue to try to honour his joy of sharing his best with all around him at this time of year.  I think my children have learned the joy of sharing .... for we never know who will be bringing someone new to our table.  One year my son invited a friend who was on leave from the army.  He arrived two days before Christmas; after New Year's Day I had to sit them down to ask if he would be staying forever.  And now each year now we await the call from my daughter .... "oh, by the way, I've found someone who has nowhere to go and I'm bringing them to share our Christmas day"....and yes, there will be a parcel for them under the tree so that they too can share in the moment of giving and receiving!

So all you advertisers out there can keep your products unless you can guarantee me that the product will produce for me the look of joy on the faces of those from my earliest memories….. the joy they derived from the ‘privilege of sharing’ their best and their love.

And so to you who may read this, I wish the joy of sharing, the love and privilege of giving the best of you from the heart. Have a wonderful Christmas season.

I share here with you, pictures of my Christmas tree.


  1. Wonderful post, Ruby, and in the true spirit of Christmas! I have made Christmas gifts for as long as I can remember and they still exist 40 years later. Our tree is also up and my favorite decorations are the ones my children made when they were so very young.

  2. Oh Ruby..such a great memory. I have been a bit of a humbug due to lack of funds and missing my dear Dad. But you have reminded me to look back and see the joy my Dad had in Christmas. I wonder if it was because he grew up in poverty and then was a Marine in the Pacific theater in WWII. He saw so many bad things..surely he was grateful to be safe with us on snowy Christmas Eves. My memories are of being taken for sled rides through snow covered streets in Akron, Ohio, being taken to see the animated windows downtown in O'Neil's and Polsky's dept stores, and finding the perfect tree to bring home. Thanks for reminding me

  3. Funds seem to be a bit of a problem everywhere today; I know I'm somewhat short at this end. However it didn't dampen the spirt of those whoe preceeded me and I refuse to let the lack ruin my favourite time of year.
    I am so glad you stopped and looked back; the warmth of good memories requires no outlay of cash ... just a breath and a vision. Hope your Christmas goes well and happy.