Laura Indalls Wilder has long been a favorite author, and it's always scenes from her books that I harken back to...scenes that swept me away to another time and place when I engrossed myself in her stories back in elementary school. I especially loved reading how much Christmas was anticipated...no matter how meager because coming from a family of four children with one working parent, I learned early-on that we couldn't be greedy.
Ms. Wilder wrote of her mother's preparation for the holiday on the prairie. "Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas". While Christmas in the cities often included trees, decorations, Santa, gifts, and cards, pioneers often faced heavy snow storms and miles dividing them from civilization. Most gifts were hand made, as were decorations and adornments when things could be found to serve that purpose. Food was usually the traditional way to celebrate when money and mercantiles were scarce. Trail hands, often miles from home and loved ones, probably recognized the day, but did little to celebrate. Such was the fate of those who braved the wilderness.
Today, we may wander to a tree farm and actually cut down a real tree, but most of us have turned to artificial for the convenience. While Ma Ingalls may have cooked all day, many of us now purchase ready-made meals from the nearby market, and very little thought or appreciation go into gifts. Commercialization has stolen the real meaning of our holiday.
My siblings had the best idea of all when a few years back they pooled their money, visited the dollar store and prepared gift bags for the homeless. I wasn't there, but I can only imagine that handing them out renewed faith in family,giving, receiving, and love. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all did that this Christmas? Wishing you all a renewed knowledge of what Christmas is all about.