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Carol Perkins: Major changes in Christmases past and present

From the days when her father cut several trees and her mother gave the final ok on which to put in the homemade stand . . . to today, when country folks favor fake trees and city folks buy real ones, Carol Perkins has witnessed many changes in the celebration of Christ's birth
Last week's column: Carol Perkins: In the case of the flea market Federal Case

By Carol Perkins

The gifts are opened, the paper in the trash, the leftovers are in the frig, and returns are in the back of the car.

Another Christmas has come and gone.

Among my Christmas memories I have seen some major changes and so have you.

\ First, the tree. During my youth, cutting the perfect tree was a day's job. My dad would go to the field behind our house and cut several before finding the right one. When my mother gave the okay, Daddy put it in a homemade stand.

Store bought red medal stands came later. We usually had a bucket filled with sand/rocks or a crisscross wooden stand. That stand usually wobbled and had to be scotched.

Decorations were colored lights with big bulbs, glass ornaments, silver tinsel, and a new box of icicles that fell to the floor, one by one. Every tree had an angel or a star at the top. No home had more than one tree and no tree was put up until about a week before Christmas. With the onset of artificial trees, came earlier decorating. By Thanksgiving weekend most trees stand brightly in front windows.

I noticed while in New York that city people usually put up real trees while we suburban/county people go for fake trees. Wonder why?

Another change in Christmas is gift buying. Overboard is where most of us go and we start before Labor Day. Some buy sale items for the coming season and then forget where they put them. Some shoppers never leave home, shopping totally on line. There was no Black Friday and no credit cards. Customers used the old fashioned "Lay-a-way" plan and made payments until right before Christmas.

Shoppers bought surprises, for the most part, and adults did not make lists. They got socks, chewing tobacco, sweaters, and perfume.

' Nationally, the language of Christmas has changed. "Happy Holidays" has replaced "Merry Christmas." Not around here, but if I watch too much TV I can see the changes in the way some cynics or non-believers say we are "allowed" to celebrate. We lost the majority attitude in American of saying, "Get out of my Christmas business!" Frankly, I was horrified to see a zombie nativity scene but I figured God could handle that.

The tree has changed. Decorations have changed. Shopping has changed. The language of Christmas has changed. One other major change is in the receiving of gifts. It's not their fault, but young people want what they want and they don't want what they don't want. Most kids are trained to be polite, but their faces show disappointment when they don't get the Lego set they wanted but end up with a board game. Just one year I am going to surprise everyone in my family. I may be the one surprised! A few years I did that with Carla (our daughter) and it was actually entertaining to watch her open this big box. I bought Carla a keyboard.

She laughed as she pulled back the paper and said, "I didn't know I needed a keyboard!"

I said, "Now you know." Carla has always "needed" to know what she was getting and what everyone else was getting. Guy said, "I told you that she wouldn't want a keyboard." I concluded that if either messed with me too much I would find a person who did want it. This turned out to be a good gift because her son has enjoyed playing it!

Christmas has come and gone and we are left with the remnants. Putting up Christmas is not nearly as much fun as putting it out. We are not nearly as patient with putting the tree back in the box as we are in getting it out. We are "tired" of Christmas by the day it is over and wish a magic elf would come and do the work of putting it away.

What never changes, however, is the Christmas story. Not the one the begins, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" but the one that begins, "And it came to pass..."

This story was posted on 2015-12-23 10:27:17
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