Wanderings – The ever changing but not changing Christmas

I heard once that the older you get, the faster time passes. It really has felt like that this year. The year has flown past, or at least it feels like it has. Even now as we’re days away from Christmas, it’s like summer was yesterday. Of course, I know time is linear. It does not speed up or slow down as a scientific construct, rather our perception of time passing does.

This change for me relates mostly to our kids. It wasn’t that long ago we were going to school Christmas concerts and struggling to get everyone in the photo for their photo with Santa. I was reminded last week that it has been six years since our youngest child was in his last Christmas concert in elementary school. He graduates from secondary school in less than seven months. Our oldest child has been out of college for three years now. Time marches on.

What has been interesting to see this year is that despite all the changes and advancing of time, how everyone in our family is gravitating back to the Christmas traditions that I thought our kids would have outgrown.

Our family has tried to balance the Christmas traditions of my wife’s German heritage, and my “Anglo-Heinz 57” heritage. When the kids were young, every December 5 the kids would place a boot outside the back door in the hopes that Sinterklaas would fill it with chocolate or toys by the next morning. This year, the boots were placed even though one child was away at college and another lives 30 minutes away.

The second-oldest of our four children is a traditionalist when it comes to holiday TV shows. It does not matter that a new Christmas movie may be on Netflix or Amazon Prime that looks interesting to my wife or me – he’s not interested. All the usual classics like Rudolph, Elf, Frosty The Snowman, The Santa Claus, and Home Alone – along with its first and second sequels are required annual viewing.

No one is convinced in my house that the original Die Hard movie is a Christmas movie. I disagree with my family – while Hans Gruber falling from Nakatomi Tower isn’t very festive, Bruce Willis as John McClane saving the day on Christmas Eve certainly qualifies as a Christmas movie to me. Yippee Ki Yay and all that jazz.

Hanging Christmas lights was another interesting sign of how things are the same, but changing. I was relegated to assistant to the assistant this year as the tallest child was on the step ladder stringing lights, and I was making sure the cords were not tangled. I didn’t miss being on that ladder.

Our second youngest child, home from college, wants to bake with Mom. We still have the apron he was given when he was five and wanted to bake – I don’t think it will fit though as he is also taller than me. I do look forward to their baking efforts.

I had thought of not putting out our Christmas Train around the tree (shocking, I know.) The track doesn’t fit well together and the train is loud. Clearly my age is showing. I was informed by youngest child that we WILL be putting that train out.

There are some things I wish would change at our home for Christmas. Except for my wife, none of my kids will sit and watch Merry Christmas Mr. Bean. Getting up later than 6 a.m. on Christmas morning is considered sleeping in. I wish that was 8 a.m. When I suggest maybe we should change or omit something, I am greeted with cries of “Grinch” or “Scrooge.”

Personally, I think the idea of Christmas PJs is inane and an unnecessary expense. My opinion however solicited more outcries. I think someone used a thesaurus too when I made the suggestion this year. I am sure someone yelled “heretic” at me.

There are those things that I do miss from Christmases past though: Staying up late trying to assemble a myriad of toys with instructions that would puzzle even IKEA designers; building Lego on Christmas morning; wandering through toy aisles trying to figure out what specific toy it is that I’ve never heard of; and trying creatively to hide the presents for four kids in a small house – I like challenges. And I seem to miss Christmas concerts – I didn’t think I would.

Whatever this Christmas brings – changes, tradition, or something in-between – the important thing for me is that family is together for another year. Merry Christmas everyone!

Originally published in the December 20, 2023 print edition of The Morrisburg Leader.