That silly song was written just before I was born and became an instant hit with parents and children alike. It was eventually sung by nearly everyone who was anyone, and still surfaces each holiday season. Who doesn’t remember the Chipmunks’ version? My favorite, especially since I grew up in the same town as the little critters’ creator, Ross Bagdasarian, who BTW was Gary’s neighbor.
The innocence of childhood is represented by the simple words of that song, but I think the lyrics also convey the secret desire of many adults during the holidays- the return of something lost. Very often that “something” is joy and peace and family unity. Gary and I talked recently about some of the holiday changes we have seen in our lifetime. It seems as though people have become more and more desperate to “give and get and do” during the holidays, but experience less joy and satisfaction in the process.
I know my parents must have felt some dread at the approach of Christmas or any other holiday- too many children and not enough money. But I don’t remember ever sensing that dread or thinking that we wouldn’t have food and presents and laughter. We never had an easy life and there was always work. The year I was twelve we shopped on Christmas Eve, celebrated on Christmas day, and worked in the olive orchard for the next two days. I know because I still have my diary. I got a red skirt, white sweater, and cologne that Christmas, plus I got to spend three days with my best friend at her house. They had a new car and they drank milk for dinner! Ironic that I don’t remember the gifts I got (they are only recorded in my diary), but I do remember spending time with Elaine, and I do remember one of the gifts she got- a manicure set.
Gary asks me every year to give him ideas for gifts. I seldom have any requests. It’s honestly quite difficult for me to think of something I want when I already have so much- peace, love, joy, health, family, friends, forgiveness. And though some would say that we live a material life that is lacking many comforts and gadgets, much of that is by choice. If I truly felt the need to have something I have the means to acquire it.
I suppose what I miss during the holidays is the joy of seeing my children unwrap their presents, or the sight of my mother pulling a ham out of the oven or my grandmother slicing fruitcake. But I can return to those days in my mind and I can write down my memories and share them with others. If our current celebrations seem more about bargain hunting, lavish decorating, and impressing others, I remind myself that in the future people may still remember the little moments of joy and peace and family unity they experienced, rather than the gifts they received.