A lot of my friends don’t get into the spirit of Christmas. It could be because they don’t have fond memories of the Christmastide or because they don’t have anyone to spend it with. They have their own reasons. My giddiness on the other hand is enough to make up for their lack thereof. I try my best to be infectious you see. I just don’t want anyone to ruin the yuletide season. It irks me when I hear someone dissin’ Christmas.
I didn’t come from a rich family. Opening gargantuan presents under a gargantuan tree never became a tradition. We had a Christmas tree though. My mother worked in a factory that manufactured all sorts of things that were exported to other countries. As an employee, she was able to buy a tree at a very small price. So yes, we had a tree—export quality at that. Every year when November strikes and All Soul’s Day has passed, we would retrieve the tree from the storage and my sister and I would set it up. It was the same tree over and over every year. It only came with a dozen of Christmas balls when my mother bought it so my sister and I crafted our own decorations. Instead of real presents underneath, my sister and I wrapped up empty boxes with used gift wrappers from last year’s holidays just so it would seem as if we had plenty of gifts.
My father was never around during the holidays. He was a soldier and he was always somewhere else doing what soldiers do. He would just give my mother extra moolah to buy us new clothes or if we were lucky, new shoes to be worn for the annual Christmas party in school. My mother on the other hand would sometimes just sleep through the entire eve of Christmas.
We lived in a town with a cool climate so bonfires were perfect. It doesn’t matter if it’s hotdogs, marshmallows or barbecue. We weren’t really in it for the food. What’s important was that we get to stay outdoors at night with my uncle playing the guitar in a drunken stupor while we wait for the village countdown hosted by a rich neighbour who lived atop the hill, overlooking the entire village and owned bombastic speakers. We were always eager for the moment when the sound of firecrackers start to escalate and fireworks began to glare in abundance at the night sky.
Pathetic and dreary? Never thought of it that way.
If you look at how we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t at all glamorous. So what’s with all the excitement? It’s the same level of exhilaration every year.
I believe it’s just a matter of perspective. Make do with what you have. Find pleasure in little things. Have fun in the company of a drunken uncle. Be mesmerized by the flames of a bonfire. Listen to the random carollers as they sing along to their makeshift milk can-tambourines. Indulge in your grandfather’s stories. And don’t forget to blow your trumpets.