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Santa on duty at the Labrador Mall.
Santa on duty at the Labrador Mall. - Gary Shaw

LABRADOR WEST, N.L.

We all know how busy we seem to be as we plod through our lives. Time isn’t infinite, as many of us thought it was back in our youth. 

The days, weeks, months and the year itself all seem to be a blur as we try to manage our time and efforts as each season arrives.

There is no better example of this and it should be no surprise to any of us, that Christmas and all that it brings, is zooming in on us.

Whether we are a few of those people who plan ahead, get our shopping done and have family and friend plans made, well in advance of the season, or are among the masses who suddenly realize that we are well into December and by hurrying up and waiting, we have then found ourselves in panic mode, that is made by our own hand.

We all have our family traditions that in many cases span across generations.

Things have certainly changed with the passage of time. For us older ones, as we look back on the Christmas that we celebrated “back home” in days long gone by, is a far different memory than the Christmas we celebrate now.

It is inherently human for us older ones to reflect on how it was and now, how it is. Christmas was at home in our little communities with our family and friends gathered with a far simpler and more modest celebration of Christmas.

The churches in our communities were always filled with parishioners who were clearly reminded of the reason for the season. It was a time and place where most gathered, regardless of age, as one to celebrate the birth of Christ.

We had a simple live tree set up in our homes, decorated with strings of popcorn and tinsel, with a star placed on the top, it was the centerpiece of Christmas at home.

The gifts were not piled to the ceiling in those days. The stockings were hung and we were excited and satisfied with a big orange and a sweet treat of some kind. It was plenty enough for us.

A single gift containing some new socks, often knitted with the gifted hands of our grandmother was not just a gift, it was often a need. Thanks Grandma. I remember a fine new hatchet with a hand-carved wooden handle with my name on the tag. How excited was I. It was not only a gift to me, but the whole household. It would serve us well to have the necessary pile of splits in the wood box that we would need all winter. It was after all, my job.

The Christmas meal was the climax event of the season. A big meal with everyone gathered to share it was the gift that we received. It was with the people that mattered in a place that mattered, sharing the things that mattered. We never once thought that we should ask for anything more.

Just in case you have somehow missed the date on the calendar, here we go again. With the passage of the years, things have certainly changed.

So many among us seem to be so time challenged that the Christmas season becomes more of a time of stress than a time of celebration. The stores have the Christmas music playing and the isles are filled with all the items that we can’t possibly get through Christmas without. Santa is front row and center for the youngsters. Our local mall is all set up thanks to the many efforts of the Christmas Elves on staff who have everything ready in a great effort to deliver Santa and the best Christmas ever.  

Families are far more spread out than ever before and the time and expense attached to getting families together adds to an already very busy time.

In our efforts to have more “stuff “ and give more “stuff “, we have added more components to the stress pile. The sky seems to be the limit. New snowmobiles parked in the yard with a big ribbon on the windshield and a stack of gifts spread high and wide around our Christmas trees that cost more than our first car back in the “old days”.

There seems to be no end to the latest items in the world of electronics and the pile of brand name clothes and gift cards that will provide any and all of the must have items.

The reality is that that the sky seems to be the limit, a similar limit to the credit cards that often make it possible. I guess it’s all good as long as the stress meter doesn’t bust.

It is however, a time that we may find ourselves looking back at some of the simple Christmas ways that we found to celebrate the season back in the years long gone by. That wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Perhaps a bit more time spent with the people that matter, sharing the things that matter, in a place that matters might just be a bit less stressful and a whole lot more fun than many of the things we find ourselves engaged in. We just might have an opportunity to leave some memories for the young ones that they too, can look back on with fondness and comfort.

Merry Christmas!

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