Every Christmas I get on this high thinking about and crafting up keepsake gifts for my family and friends. Clothes, toys, electronics…it can be a bit much. It brings me joy to be able to make and gift something unique, handmade, and personable. I especially enjoy giving things that capture a moment in time. I think this stems from my childhood.–Of course, there still is that special purse that I have been wanting and wouldn’t mind receiving…just saying.
My family didn’t celebrate Christmas. Not so much because we aren’t religious but because being first generation immigrants, we just didn’t celebrate for cultural reasons. Mainly, not knowing. My grandparents didn’t celebrate and neither did my mom. I remember being in the second grade and having to tell them about Santa and traditions like leaving cookies out and making a list, asking them, “Were you naughty or nice this year?” By the time I was in the third grade, I saved up enough money and bought gifts for them. I wrapped them up and placed them under the tree (it must have been donated to us as it was missing branch pieces). Still, it was perfect. I would tell them that Santa told me to get the gifts for them because they were good (to me) all year. Talk about being parentified at such a young age! I still don’t remember if they played along (or not), but I didn’t care. This was Christmas for me and I loved it. What’s not to love?
Unlike me, my neighbor Cynthia celebrated Christmas. She had a huge family. Eight kids!!! Since they’re Caucasian and I’m so very Chinese, everything they did was so normal. Everything! They would make pies and have it with vanilla ice-cream a-la-mode. Meanwhile, I had porridge with fish, mustard greens, black beans, and some fermented tofu (and this was way before tofu was even cool). Like my family, they were also very close. But they did not have a Christmas tree. What?! Yeah, they didn’t. Could I possibly be more normal than them?
No tree and no big fancy presents. How in the world did they not have a tree and I did? Well…her parents, who are some of the kindest people you can ever meet, did not give into the commodification of Christmas and were very put off by it. Cynthia and I would talk about all the things we wanted. I remembered her complaining that the only thing that she would get from her mom was an envelope of photos. Her mom would give each of the kids a deck of photos she accumulated throughout the year. At the wise age of about eight, I remember envying and wanting all of Cynthia’s complaints. I thought, “I want an envelope of photos.” We didn’t even have a camera so of course there weren’t any photos for my mom to give me.
A few years ago, Cynthia and I were talking about Christmas and she shared how now as grown adults, all of her siblings are so very grateful that their mom gave them such a simple yet treasured gift. –A deck of photos (every year). Sometimes, it’s the simplest of things that find its way to our heart.
However way you celebrate Christmas, may it find a way to your heart and bring you much comfort and joy. Sometimes it’s not as complicated or stressful as we may think. Happy Always, Merry Everything.
How do you Christmas? What do you do to make your heart warm and spirt bright? I would love to hear from you!