As I talk to friends and read various blogs, people talk about their Christmas memories and traditions.
I have been trying to remember if our family had a tradition. We didn’t attend a Christmas church service religiously. I don’t remember a specific Christmas breakfast, followed by opening gifts. We didn’t always visit this relative or that one. We did usually have a decorated tree. And I seem to recall that each year Mom got an ornament that had the date on it.
What I remember about Christmas is family. We weren’t always in a good mood and we still aren’t very close. But on Christmas, we were all together. When I was younger I was oblivious to every one else. What did I get, that was the important question.
As I grew older that was still a pretty important question.
I do remember trying to create a tradition that I would make breakfast of ‘messy’ eggs for Mom and Dad before we opened gifts. I remember being so desperate to please them with what I made. Looking back, I think I could have made anything in the world and burned it and Mom would have been happy with me. Looking back, I wanted desperately to please Dad. I remember always wanting his approval and for him to be proud of me.
I suppose that in his way he was pleased and proud. Born in ’38 in Kansas, raised by conservatives at the tail end of the depression, he was not and is still not a demonstrative man. (I am the opposite, hardly an emotion I feel doesn’t get telegraphed across my face or spoken)
I never felt secure that he was happy with me except on rare occasions. My security relied upon him expressing himself. I didn’t understand that what I needed was not in his nature, therefore I didn’t think it existed.
I understand better now, years after I have left the house. We live quite a ways apart from each other these days. But I understand that while he may not have shown his feelings, he most likely was proud of my brother and I just the same. I am sure that he went through the same trials and ordeals of parenting that I am starting to experience. There is no manual, no book of instructions. People tend to parent the same as their parents did raising them.
I guess what I am trying to say (badly, it seems) is that my memory of Christmas is of family, being together. As such, whether I was aware of it or not, Dad was part of that and in his (our) own way, we were all happy together.