When it comes to holidays I’m a bit of a traditionalist. Maybe more than a ‘bit’, truth be told. As the youngest in a large family I remember fondly our family Christmases and all the traditions we enjoyed every year.
It took a while with my husband – a self-proclaimed non-traditionalist – but when our grandson came along, we finally established some traditions. This being the first Christmas since “Poppy” died, I was more than a little concerned how my grandson would do.
Myself, as well.
How could I share the spirit of Christmas without any of the usual traditions? A stocking full of little goodies, a fabulous dinner surrounded by loved ones, twinkling lights and decorations – none of those things I’d previously taken for granted would be part of my Christmas with Santino.
But you know what? It didn’t matter. We had a wonderful Christmas and Santino taught me a few things that day.
Lesson #1 - Christmas is about giving.
I know that. Or, I thought I knew that. But when I picked Santino up from daycare so we could have “Christmas in the park” he was hesitant. I misread his reaction, thinking he didn’t want to do something so nontraditional. I was wrong.
“But Gramma, I don’t have your present. It’s at Mommy’s house.”
That’s ok, Honey. I’ll get it next time I visit.
He stopped, deep in thought, with his brow furrowed.
“No! I need to give you your present today!”
Apparently he has a special Christmas ornament for me and he wanted me to be able to hang it on my tree. I reassured him it’d be okay, but I didn’t bother to mention that Mom & I didn’t put a tree up this year.
It took a few minutes to convince him that we could still have our Christmas without my his present for me, but eventually we headed off to a local park.
Lesson #2 - Contrary to what my dad used to say, it’s okay to be excited about receiving clothes for Christmas. Especially if they’re Nike Jordans.
My father, having been raised during the depression, felt that giving or receiving clothes at Christmas was nearly sacrilege.
But he didn’t have an uncle who plays for the Atlanta Falcons.
An uncle who happens to know what the “coolest” Nikes are.
Lesson #3 - You don’t need a tableful of Christmas delicacies and family favorites to enjoy the day.
Oh, I wanted to take him to eat somewhere special for Christmas. But my time, and wallet, were limited. He didn’t care. Chicken McNuggets were just fine with him.
And me too.
Lesson #4 - Gifts that are wrapped prettily don’t contain any more, or less, excitement to the recipient.
Typically I spend a lot of time wrapping gifts creatively. It’s ‘tradition’. This year it was a quick trip to the dollar store and a less-than-perfect wrapping job with the back of my car serving as my gift-wrapping station.
The fact that there were no bows or gift tags didn’t bother Santino in the least.
We were nearly the only ones at the park. After opening his presents he wanted to swing on the swings. I told him I’d put his toys in the car so they’d be locked up, but he wanted his new T-rex.
“Rexie” sat on the ground all by his lonesome. But not for long. Santino wanted to swing with him then saw the baby swing and had a ball giving the dinosaur a ride.
Lesson #6 - It doesn’t matter where you celebrate Christmas, as long as you’re with someone you love.
It wasn’t a storybook Christmas. Far from it. It wasn’t like any Christmas I’d ever envisioned. But it didn’t matter. Nothing, and no one, was missing. My grandson and I had a wonderful, blessed Christmas that was special simply because he and I were together.
“Gramma, you’re the best gramma in the whole world!”
I can’t promise that next year I won’t want to have a traditional holiday with all the trappings, but this Christmas wound up being absolutely perfect.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday too, no matter how or where you spent it.