A short memory about my 15th Christmas just popped into my mind. The day was more or less pleasant but unremarkable for a typically sullen teenager. As I recall, it was a holiday spent at the maternal grandparents’ Nebraska farm with grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, younger sister, little brother, and myself. There was a fair amount of snow on the ground after a brief December blizzard.
After the generous holiday dinner, grandpa convinced my tea-totaler father to allow me a glass of wine. Grandma fetched an unopened bottle of Manischewitz wine–I think it was elderberry but it could have been the concord grape variety. Someone poured regular Welch’s grape juice into dad’s, mom’s, Deb’s, and Mark’s tumblers. Then grandpa poured Manischewitz into his, grandma’s, and my tumblers. Dad then announced a brief toast to the holidays. Then all of us sipped our beverages and munched savory tidbits.
My first official glass of wine was kind of a big deal for me because it was a major concession by dad regarding my upbringing. In hindsight, I believe grandpa was wise to introduce wine to his teenaged grandson in a controlled, supervised setting. This removed the forbidden aspect from alcohol, thus making it less appealing to me. This apparently worked in my favor–although my friends sometimes drink, I very rarely imbibe alcoholic beverages.
It’s easy to forget that the Holiday Season is not just about gifts and feasting. Oftentimes, it’s about seemingly mundane acts done in a group setting. We can enjoy this time of year with family, friends, and even in solitude according to one’s preferences.
The December holiday season is a double-edge sword regarding one’s mental health due to high expectations followed by chronic disappointment. I’m not a big fan of Christmas. There are a lot of other non-Christians who also feel ambivalent emotions regarding the day. I believe that it’s good to take in the season one day at a time. To set aside a few moments to contemplate gratitude for something in life is helpful. This is not a panacea, but it’s something nice to do.
Regarding gifts, sometimes the best present is the gift of time. I can think of few gifts as precious as sharing time together with someone special. The time spent together celebrating past traditions and forming new ones is unique and special. I hope you enjoy joyful holidays–whichever ones you celebrate.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist, and novelist, Ben Hecht. “Kindness, tolerance, integrity, modesty, generosity–these are attributes that events permit us. They are our holiday moods, and we are as proud of them as of the fine clothes we have hung away to wear on occasions.”
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
and happy holidays to you!
ha ha That’s cute.