Generation Gaps

You've got to be a certain age to understand what the title, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth." It was a popular song during the 1960s about a child who had lost his baby teeth and just wanted new teeth for Christmas so he could say "Merry Christmas" without lisping.

I doubt anyone younger than 50 remember the song, or the simplicity of the times in comparison with our current technologically advanced times. And that's too bad, because life moved at a slower pace back then. Parents were allowed to parent without interference from the government and kids played outside with neighborhood kids -- and a "play date" had never been heard of.

I remember my parents and grandparents talking about their childhoods and Christmas celebrations. I was sure when I became an adult I would not resort to such nostalgia. I was wrong.

I don't wish to go back to those times, but I do hope to instill in my children and grandchildren the importance of the sense of family, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

Amid the instant and constant availability of communications via cell phones and the Internet, it is important to physically gather with loved ones on a regular basis. During those times, turn off the cell phone and actually be present with the people around you.

I recall being 20 something, then 30 something and taking for granted that the people I loved the most would always be there "next year." It isn't true. Taking time and people for granted results in regrets you can never undo.

Santa and child

Santa and childCredit: Jacon Windham; Creative Commons; Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Jacon Windham; Creative Commons; Wikimedia Commons

Christmas in 1960s America

Like the kid in the song, our requests for Christmas gifts were simple and less expensive than the items kids of today request.  Sleds, skates, board games, train sets and Tonka toys were the gifts of the day. Baseball bats, doll houses, Thumbelina (a doll) and stuffed animals were also highly prized. Some kids were fortunate enough to receive a bicycle for Christmas, but these were one speed bikes.

Kids believed in the existence of Santa Claus until an older age than kids today. We didn't have the Internet tell us differently, nor more than five channels to watch on the TV. Information moved more slowly in the 1960s.

Although many families trimmed a natural tree at Christmas time, my mother eschewed the dropping needles and daily watering for a silver tree. The silver tree was always trimmed with a single color of glass balls and set in a rotating stand. Next to the tree was a color wheel, a bright light with a four-colored shield in front of it that spun slowly, lighting the silver tree in yellow, green, blue or red.

It's tough to imagine such a thing these days, but I spent many an evening watching the tree and the color wheel with the lights turned off. I was mesmerized.

Many families gathered together to celebrate Christmas day, after the gifts had been opened and put away. The television wasn't turned on during this visit -- it was, after all, family time.

Christmas Holidays Today

My grandchildren won't be receiving video games or DVDs from me. I give games that we can sit down and play together, or books that will keep on giving. Their parents can give whatever they choose, of course. I want to give something of myself, that being time and undivided attention.

My family still gathers for Christmas dinner. I do my best to keep the TV off and ask family members to refrain from using their cell phones. The Christmas holiday is a sacred one to me. Family time well spent is an important aspect of the spirituality of the season.