Last two Christmases we’ve been on a cruise just prior to Christmas Day. What a treat that was to walk the streets in Spain, France, Brazil and Italy with many local bakers and craftsmen show off their wares. I’ve seen cakes and jellies and treats as well as ornaments I’ve never seen before or since.
Every year I enjoy seeing the posts on the lights and celebrations all over the world. Because I have international fans, I’ve been invited to view local celebrations of towns I’ve yet to visit. Once of my readers, Rise, is from Norway, from the town my Grandmother was born in: Bergen.
As I look at the stunning pictures, I love the use of all the colored lights, the fireworks and the sense of a community celebration we don’t see here. We save the fireworks for the 4th of July. But why? Christmas here sometimes seems like one mad shopping adventure. I’d rather see lights, hear choirs and listen to wonderful Christmas music sung by children, bright lights and candles everywhere. To me, the celebration of Christmas is the celebration of the heart.
How perfect for a romance writer, right?
My children are grown, but I remember going to San Francisco when I was little, to look at the store displays, having hot chocolate at the St. Francis or the Fairmont – places my parents could never afford to stay. But they could buy me a $20 mug of hot chocolate and some treat.
I remember the time my oldest came running into the house. “Mom! Dad bought a scorched tree!” My husband regretted buying that flocked tree, and it was the tree from Hell as I picked up bits of white flocking all over the house that season. Yes, we still talk about it today, some 40 years later. There are some things a man just cannot outlive and this will be one of them.
I do miss my grandparents, on my father’s side – so poor they drank Tang instead of orange juice and bought our gifts from the 10 Cent Store. We loved those little things anyway. I remember when one of my biggest treats from my mother’s parents was to get a book of lifesavers – all ten kinds in one box! And maybe a package of chewing gum from the Wrigley’s factory near Santa Cruz – where you could go to the factory and buy them in 10-packs cheap.
However we celebrate Christmas, it surely changes through all life’s adventures. As I grew to adulthood and began to have children of my own it changed. All the holiday dinners I had for sometimes over 30 guests, and the tradition my parents set of inviting a Stanford student from another country to sit at our table, especially if they did not celebrate Christmas in their country. Our little piece of diplomacy to help heal the world. Share our family with others.
So that’s what Christmas is for me. Sharing. Sharing the world and our place in it, our love of each other, our families. That is what the culture of Christmas for me. Celebrating a man who showed the ultimate and greatest love in the universe.
Be well. And let your love light shine.