I will admit, I am not the most festive during the Christmas season. I guess that comes as you get older. Christmas isn’t the same as when I was a kid. I remember every Christmas waiting for my parents to wake up, open our doors and tell us, “It’s time!” We would run out to the living room with our brand new pajamas that our grandparents gave us for Christmas Eve, slide onto the floor grabbing the smallest of the presents that Santa brought us first. My mom would be there with the video camera taping my two little brothers and I while my dad sat drinking coffee in his bathrobe on the couch. We would open each present while in the background played my mom’s small collection of Christmas music. It was the same every year; Alvin and the Chipmunks, “A Chipmunk Christmas!” the common sound of “Alviiiiiiiiiin!” yelled over the stereo speakers, while the echo of my mother yelling, “Jonathaaaaaan!!!” in the background at my brother who usually threw fits over lack of presents compared to last year’s! She would also play Elvis Presley Christmas music for me as I was a fan of his movies.
Christmas was traditional in our home. Presents, of course, always seemed to be the focus. On Christmas Eve we would always leave cookies and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer for Santa, open a few presents for the evening, and anxiously await the following morning. For me it was usually the Christmas spirit that I always enjoyed. The old Roseburg Valley Mall was one of my favorite places to go back when they would pack the inside with seasonal vendors and Christmas music played over the loudspeaker. Sometimes you would find yourself humming along and the people in the mall filled the air with Christmas joy.
Douglas County has always been one of the most beautiful counties during the holiday season, as I was driving in Myrtle Creek the other day the town took my breath away as I saw the most spectacular towns I have ever seen decorated during Christmas. It was beautiful, with lights around every light post, a light up banner hung across the road; this made me realize Christmas season is really here.
As parents, money gets tight during this time so the usual Christmas spirit turns into stress. This year; however, it’s more about the people that we lost and aren’t celebrating it with us. Thanksgiving was hard enough, just seemed empty; quiet… the usual sounds weren’t there. The camera wasn’t flashing; the laughter of family was missing but it was replaced by new sounds. The sounds of the family that’s left teaming together to make sure this holiday was a success, all working together in the kitchen preparing the meal as it would have done and trying to keep the holiday spirit alive.
So now that the regular tradition has been disrupted we need to find new ones. Where do you start? I have always been the one to go to my parent’s house or my other half’s parents home and just enjoy family togetherness. I am 35, and this Christmas will be my first to do on my own. I often dreamed of someday doing this; having my own table to have guests at with beautifully festive tablescapes and a feast for an army. I just never realized that this would be the way it would happen. That’s where Douglas County comes in.
As I said earlier, this is one of the most festive counties with so much to see and do. Church on the Rise has a live drive thru story of Christmas play complete with hot cider, hot chocolate, and popcorn is always one of my favorite things to do. We also have the Festival of Lights every year with the newly acquired “Largest Nutcracker in the World,”. There’s the Wildlife Safari’s lights and it seems that everywhere you look in town there is a Breakfast with Santa. The Annual Douglas County Christmas Fair was recently here to ring in the Christmas Spirit and I found myself wanting to sit on Santa’s lap once more to tell him all the things I would like this Christmas. The kids and I are making our own ornaments for the tree, and I will attempt some homemade items for presents as our kids don’t have money to spend yet they always love giving gifts. Really, it’s more about trying to enjoy the holidays as a family.
I know this blog is a lot different from my others. I have thought of a million ways to make a festive Christmas blog, but with the new Christmas we are having this year, this is what’s on my mind. I also know a lot of friends and others in the community have lost people near and dear to their hearts, and how this season must be terribly hard for them.
This is a new year for new traditions and coming together as a family. Yes, I’m missing people and it doesn’t feel the same without them. The sound, the feel – it’s just not there anymore. But if you listen you may feel their spirit in the old ornaments that hang on the tree or in the children’s laughter and excitement at Christmas. But as you look around, our community coming together as we do every year with the lights and sounds of the season playing in the stores, and the friendly smiles and wishes from those you pass by.
For this year’s tradition, I’m going back to the past to spend Christmas as a family and enjoy every moment of it. I’ll play holiday music on the stereo the way my mom used to and go to every Christmas festivity that is in our area. I’ll make Christmas crafts to hang all over the house and drink hot apple cider while enjoying the company of my loved ones. That is what Christmas is to me. What is Christmas to you? What kind of holiday traditions does you and your family share? I am looking for new ones and I am sure lots others are as well.
I wish everyone an amazing Christmas filled with goodwill and cheer. You never know, this might be the best Christmas we ever have! This may be a Christmas for the record books! I am excited to see what the new year brings and the new traditions that will follow. Hold those you love close and always remember to spread the goodwill and cheer with others in the community around you. Merry Christmas!