My grandmother, my Dad’s mom, worked for one of the oldest department stores in the United States, Sears, Roebuck and Company She retired decades ago and is probably still survived by the pension.
My dad is one of two. His sister had two daughters. So we are three girls, close cousins, and close enough in age. Every Christmas, my dad’s mother would give each of us girls the Sears Christmas catalogue to dog-ear pages and circle what gifts we wanted. We didn’t get everything we wanted obviously, but we certainly didn’t go without. Unwrapping gifts was getting to see which items we chose made the cut.
Every Christmas makes me think of Christmases past.
Shopping malls are thinning out and department stores are filing bankruptcy as more people go online to spend. Within families, new traditions always sprout up by way of deaths, moving, and new relationships. No matter these circumstances, changes of place or people, the season enraptures us with a sense of nostalgia and tradition.
Childhood draws a particular reverence.
Growing up means understanding family better, acknowledging the sacrifices made, and feeling more compassion. One also gets to define the season in one’s own terms too. It may be taken more personally to say ‘I don’t want to do what has always been done.’ I want to strike out on my own or start something new. Yet, it feels so fresh and truly adult to do it.
Over the last many years, my family stopped exchanging gifts other than an item or two; only the little kids get bounty. Money and how it is spent has become more sacrosanct. We use the holiday as another occasion for a family meal.
Whether it’s Christmas or in any manner of personal economics, I still don’t get everything I want, and I still don’t go without either. I get what I need when I need it. And the season isn’t about the getting and the giving; it’s about feeling like you are wrapped in a warm blanket by friends and family. I will never forget my catalogue Christmases, but I also believe I’ll never need them again.