10 Ways to make your Christmas less stressful
5 Hacks to beat the holiday rush
7 Amazing presents under $100
8 Tips to survive Christmas travel
I read all these headlines and can't help but wonder: is this what Christmas is all about? Why has it become a holiday in which we hunt for deals and elbow fellow shoppers in our rush to get the perfect present?
I remember celebrating Christmas growing up, but I can barely remember a few of the presents that I received.
I remember that my parents used to decorate the Christmas tree while I was asleep. When I was a baby, up until the age 5 I think, it was Santa that brought the Christmas tree together with the presents on December 24th. I thought Santa was a pretty cool dude, because we lived on the fourth floor and he would fly up to the window (always the window!), come inside without a noise and put the Christmas tree on a cabinet. We would always have a short tree because the apartment was so small but I thought it was the most beautiful tree in the world.
I remember that we didn't take down the tree until my birthday, way into January. It would be all dry and shedding needles, but it had to stay up. It was a family tradition.
I remember how Santa always brought some oranges and bananas, which were so hard to find back then. My mom would spread them on newspapers on top of the wardrobe because they needed to ripen. I remember chocolate bars being wrapped in paper, not in plastic. We used to hang chocolate candy in the tree and I used to steal the candy from inside and leave the wrapper on, then puff it out a bit to create the illusion that there was still candy inside.
I remember how my brother and I would fight over the proper way to decorate the tree. I remember his tantrums about the plastic snowflakes. It's funny now.We would listen to carols and my dad would insist that they're not foreign, but traditional. When all was done, we would strike funny poses for the camera using hats as props.
I remember the time we decided to take our first family picture in front of the Christmas tree and how my dad would fret to have it look perfect ("hug your brother!").
I remember the shows we put on at school for our parents and all the poems we had to learn. I can still recite some of them. I remember my mom's watery eyes when I would go in front on the class to recite my poem or play my part.
I remember the snow fights in the school yard and how we would come back from recess soaking wet. It was always "the boys" versus "the girls" and we each had a safe retreat place in opposite corners of the yard. I still remember the feeling of having snow rubbed all over my face.
I remember how happy we were when school was cancelled because of the heavy snow and how we would call each other to spread or confirm the news.
I remember the first time the city put up Christmas lights and how my dad took everyone on a car ride to look at them. And then again the next evening. And then again.
I remember when I got my first stocking, and I was so proud because it was "just like in the movies".
I remember when my brother and I plotted for an hour to throw the dog in a huge pile of snow and he swam out of it in 3 seconds.
I remember all the anticipation of Christmas lunches and the running to-and-fro to finish up the last touches while waiting for guests.
I remember when I wrote personalized limericks for all of my friends in college.
I remember when Sorina and I decided to watch You've Got Mail and eat popcorn sometime in December, as our yearly holiday tradition. We know the lines by heart and say them with Kathleen and Joe (F-O-X, Mr.152 insights into my soul!) One year we watched it in the summer and we felt so guilty.
I remember when my friend Andreea crafted a present for me and called it my Christmas juju. She made hand warmers and a clay decorations. She made a cute tag and there was glitter all over my hands but I loved it.
I remember Ana's post-Christmas wine parties and how much we laughed trying on masks.
I remember when Ana G and I walked all over town a few years ago and took pictures with all of the lights and stayed in the freezing cold just to listen to a carols concert.
I remember when Trevor had his first mulled wine here and I taught him how to say Merry Christmas in my language.
I don't remember the presents or how much they cost. I don't remember the grinches. And I certainly don't remember any stress.
Oh, and I also remember this: