Have Yourself a Merry Little Old-Timey Christmas

The “COVID Christmas” of 2020 was anything but “old-timey.” We:

  • barely left the house…except for riding around and looking at the decorations
  • didn’t put up the tree…but settled for some outdoor lights
  • connected with family from our couch via Zoom and Facetime…which was great, but a far cry from the real thing.

I have to say, it was a little dismal. And because the cloud of COVID hung over all of us, our spirits weren’t nearly as merry as they were in any other year. This season, regardless of where we are with COVID and its insidious variants, I am looking forward to embracing many tried and true Christmas traditions. The focus will be on fewer gifts and more gab while keeping things simple and familiar all the way around.

If you are longing for a meaningful, memory-making Christmas season while adapting as needed, consider the following ideas:

Cut down your very own Christmas tree. Was there ever a Hallmark holiday movie where that didn’t happen? Okay, but in the spirit of keeping it simple, you may want or need to change things up. So, gather the family and make a trip to a big box store where the options abound. Remember it is about the shared experience more than it is about the tree. But don’t stop there…

“Host” a tree decorating party. Back to the old movies, you rarely saw champagne or caviar at these parties. Instead, it was more like Alvin and the chipmunks having a good time and eventually managing to get the job haphazardly done. Have a few seasonal snacks on hand but keep it simple and casual. By the way, your “guests” may be your family or just as well your book club buddies, your neighbors –  you choose.

Bring back the traditional Christmas card. We’ve gotten all techy with our cards and it’s time to reconsider. I mean, don’t you love seeing those red and green colored envelopes in the mailbox? The ones with a Hallmark or Fringe card that includes an actual handwritten note? Pick a weekend afternoon in early December, put on some holiday music, have some cocoa and start writing your cards. You will bring a smile to the face of those who have grown used to getting your clever Shutterfly offering.

Cook or bake a family Christmas classic. Maybe it’s your own or one that goes back to your ancestors. In my family, my mother’s 1960s era pistachio cake decked out like a Christmas wreath is seriously old timey and maybe a bit tacky, too! As the children in the family grew up and had kids of their own, they continued to ask, “Aunt Jean, when are we having the cake?” Short on time? Don’t cook? Go for a nutmeg-sprinkled eggnog. Mmmm.

Organize a caroling event. I know, this may sound like a big deal, but it needn’t be. Gather whoever is game, have a list of songs you will sing, and start ringing a few doorbells. When people see you, particularly if you’ve donned a classic ugly Christmas sweater or a Santa hat, they will open their door and welcome the old-timey gesture.

Draw from your memories to reinstate a tradition. This approach is about as old-timey and genuine as it comes. In my family of origin, we opened presents On Christmas Eve, before Midnight Mass. You may have another tradition, a fond memory of creating homemade presents, watching “A Christmas Carol,” or reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”  Bring that tradition back!


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