As we approach the celebration of the Christmas holiday, I cannot help but think about the many Christmas days that I have spent during my lifetime. As I race around shopping and gift buying for my many nieces, ... As we approach the celebration of the Christmas holiday, I cannot help but think about the many Christmas days that I have spent during my lifetime. As I race around shopping and gift buying for my many nieces, nephews and “adopted” grandchildren, and I hear them asking for expensive electronic toys and designer label clothes, I think about what Christmas was like when I was growing up. I think about what I remember about Christmas and seldom are these memories focused on the gifts I received. It seems like Christmas was a simpler and happier time back then. It seems that it was more special, less stressful and less focused on receiving expensive “stuff.” Maybe I feel this way because I grew up in a family with a lot of children, a lot of love, but very little money. Perhaps because of that situation, there were other things that made Christmas a happy and memorable occasion for us. Many of these memories bring a smile to my face even today.
I remember the tattered look of the Sears catalogue as Christmas day approached having dog-eared so many pages and having marked our names beside the three or four items we were each allowed to request.
I remember helping my mother decorate our apartment and the big box that always came out of the closet filled with colorful ornaments, red and green candles that had never been lit, Santa figurines, plastic angels, and all sorts of Christmas stuff.
I remember going to bed as soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve to await Santa’s arrival down the chimney, never once considering that “projects” didn’t have chimneys.
I remember singing Christmas hymns in school even though today separation of Church and State would not sanction that happening.
I remember our first artificial Christmas tree that my mother sprayed with pine fragrance and let me help her toss those wonderful silver ice sicles. I thought this tree was much better than any real pine tree, not realizing that I’d see that same tree for the next ten years.
I remember the plentiful supply of assorted nuts and how I learned to deftly crack them without benefit of a nutcracker and without hurting my teeth except for those very difficult to shell Brazil nuts AKA ###toes.
I remember the Christmas Eve smell of oranges, tangerines, apples, turkey, cakes, pies and other wonderful scents from the kitchen.
I remember after opening gifts, waiting patiently as my father ran to the store because invariably there was an unanticipated need for batteries.
I remember the wonderful smell of caps from my brother’s new cap guns even though I know that today’s politically correct families do not buy guns as gifts.
I remember being happy to receive “girl stuff’ like, dolls, tea sets, baking tools, etc., never feeling that it was sexist when my brothers received cars, trucks, sporting goods and guns.
I remember how genuinely happy my mother always appeared to be when she opened her crudely wrapped gifts of Evening in Paris perfume or three nicely boxed lace handkerchiefs lovingly purchased at the local drug store.
I remember that my favorite Christmas Carol was the blues song “ Merry Christmas Baby” that my father always played on the “Hi Fi” on Christmas mornings.
These were simpler times and happy times that I remember fondly. Here’s hoping you have a wonderful Christmas Holiday filled with happiness and the makings of fond memories for you and your loved ones!!!!!
Nelvia M. Brady, Ph.D. is the former Senior Vice President of Carrington & Carrington, LTD., a prominent executive search firm where she specialized in recruiting diversity candidates for executive level positions in major corporations. She currently serves as Executive in Residence at Robert Morris College in Chicago. She is the author of This Mother’s Daughter and 300+ Pearls of Wisdom. With a 25-year care