As this Christmas approaches, I find my mind wandering back in time to the many fun and simpler Christmas' that me and my family have shared in the past, and I remember how much better they were back in those days. Not only was I younger, and enjoying the childhood lie of Santa Claus and all that it entails, but people seemed to care more about being familiar with each other back then, sending everyone they knew a Christmas card, gathering together at the local pub, and visiting each other's homes on Christmas Eve to partake of fun, laughter, and a drop of Christmas good cheer! We would sit by real open fires, toast bread on those fires, the local grocer would come around with his van loaded up with a choice of Christmas trees, and the snow drifts that were larger than me or my friends, were much more fun to run and jump or sleigh in. Christmas' today aren't what they used to be because of all these things. Where I grew up in England, and, probably the United States wasn't that much different, I remember the intense excitement that I would have as I pulled back the windows on my nativity calendar that took me up to Christmas Day. Back then it was nothing to find snow falling before or around Christmas, and the snowflakes were the biggest I'd ever seen never to be equaled again in their humongous size. I remember, me and my childhood friends, Kevin and Wendy, would frantically run around trying to catch as many snowflakes as we could with our mouths open while laughing hysterically as we did so. Where the snow drifts had accumulated against any one of the bushes that surrounded many of the English gardens, my friends and I would run and jump into them, disappearing, momentarily, out of sight where the drifts were six feet deep or more in some cases. Those watching the disappearing jumper would scurry to dig that brave heart quickly out, while laughing at such antics and they would hurry to bring that kid to the top again so that everyone was assured of being okay. What fun we had! To add to the joy of Christmas, I remember Mr. Preston racing down into our cul-de-sac with his grocery van, and the top laden heavily with a slew of Christmas trees for each villager to choose from. Being very particular that we got the prettiest tree he had, my mum would make him take many of them down for us to choose from, and after paying for it, my dad would come out and haul the tree off to the house to mount it and water it ready for my mum and me to decorate. As we carefully placed each ornament that reminded us of fun times gone by, or relatives long gone, or fraway, the Christmas music from the Andy Williams Christmas Show would loudly play on our new black and white TV. The real open fire would crackle and spit as it burned up the coal and logs placed there to enhance the warmth that it provided for us throughout the entire house. These were memorable childhood days for me. On Christmas Eve, we would visit our many neighbors throughout the cul-de-sac, or they would also come to us, often bringing gifts and Christmas cards. As most English people did back then on this special Eve, my dad would break out the best whiskey or brandy for himself and our many visiting guests. The house was adorned with Christmas cards from family, friends, and neighbors, both far and near, each one glittering in the lights of our Christmas tree and the glistening of the flames from the fireplace. All too soon, it would be my bedtime, and while my mum, dad, Uncle Bob, and my brother enjoyed their Christmas cheer beverages downstairs, I would excitedly lay in bed looking out the window. The sky would be saturated with a million, small, glistening stars where I'd pin my eyes hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus and his reindeer as he soared through the sky to bring all the little children of the world, that had been good that is, the Christmas presents they so deserved. My mum, coming to check on me to make sure I was asleep would lightly scold me each time my eyes were open with excitement and anticipation of the morning to come and all the gifts I felt Santa would bring to me. Finally, tired from all the hustle and bustle, my eyes would eventually close and I'd fall off to sleep. In the wee early hours of the morning, my excitement could be contained no more and I would bomb into my parent's bedroom, jumping on the bed bidding them to wake up at four o'clock in the morning and go with me down the stairs to open my Christmas gifts from Santa Claus. Not entirely happy at this early awakening, they would struggle to rise to the occasion, and stumble and fumble downstairs to watch me furiously rip open gift after gift. In this way it proved to me that so many gifts from Santa Claus showed how good I had been throughout the year despite my many spoilt little girl temper tantrums when everything didn't go exactly my way on any one occasion! Oh, here was the Tiny Tears baby doll I so wanted, and here's a cherry wooden bed that Santa made just for her and for me, and, oh, look at the lovely chiffon lilac flowered quilt and matching pillow cases that Mrs. Santa made to finish off the eloquence of my Tiny Tears baby doll's bed, how wonderful these Christmas' were. This excitement continued until such time as I finally realized that Santa Claus, his elves, and his reindeer was all an intentionally inflated lie. That's when my childhood excitement for what I had come to beleive was truly Christmas took an immediate nose dive never to be reborn in me again in exactly the same manner. The open fireplaces were replaced by not nearly as enhancing gas fire logs, that lacked that same magical flickering and crackling that only a real fireplace can create, and there was no wonderful smell of burning pine logs. The snow comes and is gone in one day, where the drifts, if there are any at all, are not nearly as deep or big as I remember them to be growing up, or is it that I have merely got bigger and the snow drifts have remained the same? Having moved away from that wonderful little village that I grew up in, Steeple Aston, I'm lucky if I even know my next door neighbor let alone all of my neighbors on the street where I now live. The Christmas trees are to be found at the grocery store, or the sites set up from mountaineers that have carefully grown the real trees and brought them down to us in the city to buy. Most of our Christmas' are now enjoyed by fake Christmas trees that lack that wonderful pine needle smell, which filled the house as those long ago used to do. Christmas cards, well, who sends them anymore? I'm lucky if I get one personally addressed to me online where most are posted for everyone that the sender knows. Drinking, even on this special holiday time, is now taboo and frowned upon, especially if you have to drive. Your friends, if you are lucky, usually live at least across town and thirty minutes or more drive away from you. Families, once again, are split from one end of the nation to the other, and busy lives and the need to work keep them from coming together at this special holiday time. With loved ones lost through bad life choices, or where their time has come to move on to the next life in heaven, such voids leave only sad memories of wonderous Chritmas' gone by shared with these same people who, for one reason or another, no longer share our lives. Looking back on Christmas' shared as children with the exctiement that surrounded this entire Christmas holiday, today's Christmas' don't even seem to compare. So, on this holiday season, I will reflect back on the true reason and wallow in the memory of those exciting and more fun Christmas' spent with loved ones that no longer are able to share this with me, leading me to truly beleive that Christms' today aren't what they used to be.