Christmas is my favorite holiday. It always has been,even when the youthful excitement of getting gifts faded the older I became. It's the feeling that it invokes in me...contentment,happiness,a certain coziness and love of mankind that seems quite special. I love the decorations,the snow on the trees (which we have,thankfully,due a snowfall that is still falling as I type this),the carols,and being with my loved ones.
I remember each year of what my Dad used to tell me about his Christmases growing up. My Dad was was born in 1914.He was the third child born (my Uncle Albert died at birth,my Uncle Richard lived.My Dad then took the name of Albert,which was also my Pepere's name) to a large family.(My Memere and Pepere Lessard were French Catholics who,apparently,did not use birth control)When my Aunt Rachel was born at the end of the 1920's,she was the 12th child born to my grandparents (besides Albert,a daughter,Elinore,and a set of twins had passed.When my Memere died of pneumonia in 1929,she was pregnant yet again). My Pepere worked in the mills,and then at the water pumping station.My Memere stayed home,and needless to say,they didn't have much money.
They did,however,have a large extended family on my Memere's side,the Magnans (pronounced Mahn-yah).Though Pepere Lessard's family was not small (about 10 kids),when they made the move from Bartlett NH to Somersworth NH,the older children had their own lives and had already moved on. Memere Lessard had around 9 children in her family,and they all still lived in Somersworth. Christmas was spent at the home of Memere and Pepere Magnan,singing Christmas songs around the family piano. There was lots of good food,too.
My Dad said since they didn't have a lot of money when he was young,they would get perhaps one gift a piece.The tree was a gift for everyone.When the children were asleep,Pepere and Memere Lessard would set up the tree,and when the children came down stairs in the morning,there it would be,in all it's beauty. Part of the excitement was just seeing the tree. My Dad told me,"We didn't have alot of money,so we didn't have much for presents,but we always had a tree and lots of food.And we always went to Memere and Pepere Magnan's where there was more food and singing." My Dad was never mentioned being disappointed about the lack of presents. It was being with the family and having simple treats as pies,cakes,cookies,and pork pies that he always mentioned with great fondness. Christmas was always his favorite holiday,one of the many things he passed down to me.
I remember growing up we always had plenty of gifts,and some of Dad's brothers and sisters would visit on Christmas Eve. Sometimes Mom's brother Dickie or sister Gert and their families would stop in for a visit.That was always fun. We would stay up late,sometimes unwrapping the gifts around 11:30,sometimes waiting until morning. And of course,we would always have our pork pies on Christmas Eve.
I find myself now at 44 being more nostalgic about my Christmases growing up. It helps bring on that wonderful feeling I get. I can see my Dad, now 21 years passed,and all of my aunts and uncles,who have mostly passed on as well. They are wonderful memories,and I try to incorporated what I feel into the atmosphere in our home. I use lots of candles,pretty decorations,and oil lamps,and I happily admit that I love the vibe it all gives off. I do hope that when Zach is my age,he too will look back at his Christmases with the same type of love and fondness I do -the Christmases where he was completely spoiled,and the one where we had so little money that we could only afford two gifts for him-because,like my Dad told me,it's not about the gifts,it's about family and love.