I enjoy being the Queen of Christmas. I treasure each and every decorative item I’ve collected. I actually enjoy sending out Christmas Cards and keep all the greetings I receive in scrapbooks. As much work as it is to host the Christmas Feast, there is much about it that brings me pleasure. Buying gifts and wrapping them is a blast. It really is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Though taking it all down and packing it away is sad, unpacking it all again will be pure bliss.
The real question is, “Who cares?”
I’ve never had children and neither has my sister. My sweet husband tolerates all the fuss, but if I announced I was calling off Christmas, he’d be fine with it. Correction, he’d be thrilled. My sister and her husband enjoy coming for Christmas Dinner, but I bet they’d quickly find something else to do if I didn’t put out the usual fare on December 25th. My 92 year old dad abhors it all. He just wants to be left to his routine in the space he’s familiar with.
My husband’s family has their own routine. For Coptic Egyptians, the
gift-giving part of Christmas occurs in January, the day they celebrate the adoration of the Magi. During the first decade of our marriage, most of them were in Egypt. My husband’s disinterest in Christmas and his concern about unnecessary expenditures kept us from developing a tradition of going to see them. Bill’s brother did live here in Dallas and we did spend time with him at Christmas, but Amir passed away several years ago and his wife is caught up in her son’s lives.
With Aunt Edie’s death this year, my mom is really the only one who cares that I carry on the traditions of Christmas. She loves to wander around my house and discuss the heritage of each and every decoration. I’d say sitting at my table enjoying the Christmas feast is probably the highlight of her year. But the day will come when I won’t be able to claim I’m doing it for her.
I wonder who will be interested in my treasures and traditions then. Talking to Bill’s sister I mentioned the possibility of one of her daughters claiming it all. I was informed in no uncertain terms that they had all the Christmas that they needed. Two of my nephews live in small apartments and think holidays are just duty days. Another nephew is getting married in the coming months, but he and his intended are singularly disinterested in the accumulation of things. They make disparaging remarks about all the “junk” we older people collect and had to be arm wrestled into registering for wedding gifts. The possibility of a shower is still under negotiation.
So I suppose I will have to look to the next generation. Will my grand-niece
Hannah, who recently turned three, someday develop an interest in keeping my American holiday traditions? Will the only niece left in Egypt move here someday and share my love for the season? Will one of my nephews or grand-nephews marry a girl who wants to be the Queen of Christmas.
Or perhaps it will be one of my friends’s children. My beloved friend and scrapbooking buddy has two boys who are pretty fond of their “Aunt” Jane. One is artistic and has “family” tattooed over his heart. The other’s interest in art has resulted in a body that is covered from neckline to toenails in tattoos and he’s more of a loner. I’d love to think they’d want to carry on my traditions, but if I’m the Queen of Christmas, my friend is the first runner up. Her home is as well decorated as mine and she’s carefully engendered her own set of traditions.
The only other child who regularly loves on her “Aunt” Jane is my friend Lisa’s darling Daniella Capri. She’ll turn three soon, like my grand-niece Hannah. Will the regular lunches I have with she and her mom plant the seed of a desire to preserve my treasures.
Which brings me to a larger question. It would be sad if my collected Christmas treasures are one day sold in an estate sale to people who know nothing of the traditions which create their true value, but what about me? As I age, who will come beside me and do all the things I spend my Thursdays doing for my parents? Who will realize it’s time for me to downsize my lifestyle into one that fits into an apartment in a retirement center? Who will help me pack up the things I will need in my smaller life, capture my treasures for themselves and then oversee the estate sale.
These things do cross my mind – especially when I’m packing up my Christmas decorations. Though we all long to know the future, it is really a blessing that we can’t see into it. If we could we might lose hope.
As long as there’s a chance that someone – one of my nieces or nephews or one of my friends’ children or even someone I haven’t met yet – will love me enough to want to preserve my memory, then that gives me a reason to hold on to my traditions. If I knew, for sure, that no one would ever care, and that the used belongings of one little old lady named Jane would just be sold to fatten the pockets of someone recognized by the court as my heir, then my treasure would already be of no value.
I urge you to look around you. I’m not the only one with a life that could one day fade into nothingness. I bet you have an aunt or a cousin or a next door neighbor with a rich heritage you know nothing about. Invest in the lives of those around you and glean the treasure of their traditions. Don’t let the urgency of your day-to-day routine rob you of the possibilities of wealth without a dollar sign.