The Magic of Christmas

When we think of Christmas, many of us will have different perceptions of what Christmas should be like. Different families have certain traditions, and as we grow older we adopt our own traditions. But on the whole, for older generations, is Christmas what it used to be like or has it changed so dramatically not many of us recognize it any more?

Today’s article is somewhat a personal one, as I will talk about my own Christmas experiences and how it has changed for me. I was raised in a family that was avid about Christmas. We weren’t particularly religious, although I attended a Church of England Primary School which influenced my Christmas experience from the start. My parents were always lavish with our gifts and fed into the belief of Father Christmas for a long time.

I was eight or nine when I finally discovered he wasn’t real and I think it was from there my Christmases began to change.

From being small, Christmas began at my primary school, from what I can remember. The children would partake in a ceremony known as the Christingle. It was a Christmas celebration within the Church of England church where children paraded with oranges that held a lighted candle, with a lot of symbolism on the fruit. The Orange represented the world, the candle the light of Christ, the fruit the food we feed on and the red ribbon the blood of Christ. It was a lovely experience as we often sang my favourite Christmas songs and it really started the whole Christmas feel for me.

Also at school we would do Christmas shows. While I was very young it was the traditional nativity play where children reenact the birth of christ. Then as I grew older, we would do what would be considered traditional pantomimes. It was a lot of fun and always began the count down to Christmas.

The turning on the Christmas lights, going late night shopping with my mum and Grandmother were other memorable events that usually took place before Christmas. I would often see a pantomime with school and the whole “he’s behind you” season would truly get me into the magical spirit of Christmas.

Everyone always seemed so happy during those times. My parents would beam knowing my excitement was building all of the time. School fairs, singing Christmas carols with my friends, making Christmas foods with my mum and Grandma were the things I remember greatly from my early Christmas days.

And Christmas itself, once it arrived thrilled my child like brain. The pretty colours on the tree, my hand made decorations and Christmas card hanging with pride, and I would always deliver Christmas gifts with my dad on Christmas Eve. It never struck me that my dad was delivering them until I was around seven years old. I remember asking my great grandma as I sipped hot chocolate while we were delivering Christmas presents to her why Father Christmas wouldn’t be delivering them and she responded with that he was so busy delivering the children’s presents that he had asked my dad to help him out. I thought my dad was so special that night that the man in the big red suit had asked for my dad’s help. But my child’s mind was satisfied with the answer I got.

I would return home and have a mince pie and a glass of milk, ensure father Christmas’s wine, mince pie and Rudolf’s carrot were safely in place and go to bed with such an excitement, how I ever fell asleep I will never know.

One Christmas stands out to me though. I had woke up very early and it was still dark outside. I lay in bed, scared to get up. And as I lay there, my over imaginative mind would swear I heard the jingle jangle of reindeer bells. It was such a scary moment for me as a child but one I’ll never forget. I was happy and ready to start the festivities.

In a lot of ways, I don’t think it was Christmas day itself I loved but the lead up to it. The anticipation and the magic that seemed to fill the crisp, cold air that wowed me as a child. And of course, as we grow older, the magic diminishes and is replaced by nothingness. I often say having children around you at this time of the year helps to replenish that magic we once had ourselves but those early years, with all of the well known traditions of home and school life will be forever etched in my memory and heart.

Now, Christmas for me is about giving and being with loved ones and friends. Now my traditions have changed somewhat. Now I get to wrap the gifts, hand them out like my dad once did with me, sing Christmas songs to my heart’s content in my bedroom from the first of december, eat a lot of food and meet with friends for new traditions. Christmas isn’t what it once was for me as a child but my childhood Christmas was one I loved and will treasure forever. And as I grow older, maybe my own traditions will begin to filter in but magic is not the same for me as an adult now the traditions have changed.

For each generation it seems to be different. The Christmases my mum and her sister speak of are so different again from the ones I experienced as a child. And sad as it is, with each generation, a little more magic seems to get lost and Christmas loses what it meant to the generation before it. I’m not sure why but looking back over history, even their Christmases seem to be even more magical than mine were. I wish I knew how when we lose the traditions of the past that the magic and spirit of Christmas seem to be lost.

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