You don’t know what I am talking about? Christmas was a magical time when you were showered with gifts that were exactly what you were hoping for. Well, congratulations, but you are the exception.
I have evidence gleaned from a random family survey spanning the ages of 32 to 68 since I figure they are far enough removed from their childhoods to be honest about their remembrances.
Here’s some sample feedback from youngest to eldest. My daughter Sara shared: “I remember playing with Barbie’s under the tree. There were lots of presents. Christmas carols. I loved the handwritten thank you letters that Santa left for me.”
I am happy her memories are positive. The dreads drove me to approach Christmas like a life or death challenge to thrill rather than disappoint.
My daughter, Jennica, proves the axiom that anything overdone well is still overdone. “I remember I was in sixth grade and all excited about Santa coming. Everybody around me started making fun and saying that Santa doesn’t exist. I came home and confronted. You had to tell me the truth.” Pause here. “I think that’s the year I started drinking!” This is our family humor at its best.
“I remember being so excited and then getting nothing that had anything to do with what I was interested in. It left me feeling invisible.”
Next sister. “I never wanted to throw out the boxes. I would shove my presents behind the tree so that I could be surprised again. I remember getting a doll but the lip color was chipped. I found some red nail polish to paint them.”
My sister Pat: “I was 10 and Andy was born a week and a half before. It was the first time I was aware of the miracle of a new baby. I had figured out that things could go wrong in childbirth and I was secretly worried. I loved his name, his tiny fingers and toes, how beautiful he was and how it felt to hold him. I have a clear memory of rocking him in the dark with the tree lights on. Everything seemed magical.”
The boys. “Sue, as sad as it sounds, I have no memories of Christmas. I must have blocked it out.”
Next brother. “The most exciting Christmas was getting a submarine that was two and a half feet long and had a see-through cover. You could see the torpedo rooms, bunks, mess hall; everything. It had a broken part. I gave it back to be traded in. It was so cool. I never saw it again. The other memory was going to the Volks and singing Christmas carols with Mama Volk playing the piano.”
Five out of the 11 avoided responding.
In my lasting holiday memory, we had to line up on the stairs, youngest on the bottom steps on up to the eldest. We had to stay put while my father took the annual Christmas photo. The camera had a flash attachment. I can still see him wetting the end of the bulb, inserting it, telling us to stay still, look at the camera and say cheese. Click. Nothing. Then came the scramble for a new bulb and the grumbling under his breath until we were all standing stick straight, frozen and miserable. All excitement was replaced with anxiety.
What can we learn from this skewed survey? Half of us don’t remember much of anything. The other half has good news-bad news memories. Nobody is at fault. Instead, it is a fact that comes once a year. So let’s approach this season kindly and with a light touch.
May you be well loved, well cared for and well protected from too high expectations as we embrace the holiday season of 2012.
Susan is the author of Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. You can reach her at: susanvelasquez.com or (949) 494-7773.