Well, Christmas is right here on us, once again. Just like with Halloween and Thanksgiving (and most of 2020’s other holidays), this year’s celebrations may be a little different. Whether you have a small gathering at home or plan to have a merry little Zoom yuletide, I hope you take the time to send, and receive, good cheer. Even if you wish them well through the window, let them know you care.
Togetherness, with family and friends, is really at the heart of our celebrations. I recently read Phillip Snyder’s wonderful December 25th: the Joys of Christmas Past and what I learned is: our American, and universal, Christmas has always been about consumerism because we like to give gifts to the people we love and appreciate.
December 25th chronicles how we Americans have celebrated the holiday in all its changing forms. True to our nation being the great Melting Pot, if it wasn’t for the immigrant influence we wouldn’t have our distinctly ‘Merican traditions. It’s from the merging of these diverse customs and influences that we have everything from Christmas trees to mistletoe.
Although the book was published in 1985, it is still relevant and insightful. It’s chock full of history and informative, holly berry-sized facts, including illuminating customs that have fallen out of favor over the years. From antique toys to haggling poultry prices on the street, Snyder used newspaper articles, letters, and diary entries from the 1850s onward to write his fully immersive tome.
December 25th is out of print, but a used copy can be found on the internet for a few bucks and I strongly recommend its purchase. Reading it in the days before this current Christmas season really helped me get in the holiday mood what with all the Covid business going on.
For a quick read this season, and a good one to share with the kids of all ages in your family, check out The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (no relation). It is the timeless tale of the Herdman children (scamps all) joining the local church’s Christmas play. They help fill the roles from the Wisemen to the Shepherds to Joseph and Mary. It is, somewhat, reminiscent of A Charlie Brown Christmas if that classic involved arson, petty theft and a Mary willing to sock anyone who got too close to the baby Jesus.
And what would Christmas be without reading the most famous editorial ever written, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. Even us adults need a reminder that seeing is not always believing. Magic and miracles do exist and their season is truly Christmas.