As we approach the Christmas holiday, do you tend to look back on Christmas as you were growing up? Or when you had a family and they were a big part of this holiday?
I find myself looking back at the changes over the years and the joys of this time of the year. Years ago. when we were all at home and times were difficult, much like today, we didn't find many gifts under the tree. But we didn't expect much, and anything was a pleasant surprise. A big Christmas dinner was always a great part of the day.
We usually had livestock to care for, and they came first, even if it was a holiday. We probably hurried through chores more than usual, but cows were milked and fed and the barn was cleaned before anything else was done.
Our Christmas trees were often ones that friends let us cut from their woods. They weren't the nicely shaped, short needled trees that you can buy today but that didn't matter. It was a Christmas tree, and with the few lights and ornaments we had, it was a great tree.
As the years went by and we had families of our own, Christmas was always enjoyable. As our children were growing up, they would find each year a different one. Their interests and needs would change and so would their gifts. Some late Christmas Eves were spent on "some assembly required" kinds of gifts. And "some assembly" quite often was complicated and time consuming but had to be done before morning.
Now, as is true with many families, we have grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, to be a part of the joy of Christmas. For us at this time in our lives, family gatherings become more important, along with time with friends. As is true with all of us, we don't know what tomorrow will bring so enjoy the day.
That brings up another thought. Some times we tend to worry too much about tomorrow and don't enjoy today. True, we have to plan for the future. But worry about things that may never happen doesn't get us anyplace. The idea of living in "day tight compartments" is good. That means do all we can to enjoy and make the most of the time we have this day because tomorrow will come soon enough.
One of the best Christmas presents we can give ourselves and those around us is to make the most of the 24 hours we have today and look for the blessings we have. Sure, these are troubling times, and it can be difficult to look on the bright side of life. But there can be many small ways we can help ourselves to make the day more enjoyable.
For most of my life I have worked with people in various ways. One important goal of the Ohio State University Extension programs is to help people help themselves through information and education. With 35 years of working in Extension in several positions, that philosophy has been a part of my life.
Over the years, I have met and worked with many fine people, far more than I can count. Those people helped shape my life, and I hope I had some impact on theirs. Some of them I still have contact with, perhaps only at Christmas, but it is great to hear from them.
So as you find Christmas getting closer, take time to be with friends and family. If you family is scattered like they can be today, find another family to be a part of your holiday. Or join a community event or volunteer to help at one if you are able. Be a part of an extended family.
One quick gift we can give someone is a cheery merry Christmas with a smile. Then carry that positive attitude and smile over into next year. It just might be catching!
And let me wish each one of you a very merry Christmas - with a smile.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune and grew up in Trumbull County.