At the risk of being called the Grinch, let me state that the celebration of Christmas has evolved radically in my lifetime.
Santa Claus has supplanted the Savior. In this corner dressed in swaddling clothes and weighing a hefty eight pounds is the Savior. In the other corner dressed in red with white fur weighing in at a hefty 800 pounds is Santa Claus.
Christmas was peaceful and calm; a time of reflection and contemplation, quietude. Journey with me down a snowy lane to a house beside the hill. Candles glow softly in the windows to show the way. Smoke spirals out of the chimney making its way heavenward. A brisk wind blows it away and it is lost in the night. The cold wind bites noses as we plow through the snow. The animals in the barn and pens make quiet sounds. A family is gathered around a cedar tree that dad brought from the woods. They laugh and sing as they decorate the tree with ornaments, strings of popcorn, homemade trinkets, balls, paper ropes and other baubles. Then a star is placed on the highest tip of the tree. The Christmas story is read from Luke chapter two. Evening prayers are given and the day ends.
The children go to bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Gifts were few and simple; homemade, practical. No one was trampled to death in the process at the Calvertville Store. Christmas was contemplative, quiet as snow fall.
People gathered at the small church in the village for the hanging of the green. Candles bathed the scene in soft light. The church sang favorite carols. Real people presented the nativity scene. Then the Christmas Story from Luke 2 was read... "And there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world would be taxed ..."
The year 2012 is quite different. The river of time has flowed on and many aspects of the holiday have changed. People have found a bridge and crossed over to the other side of the river that is quite different from the world of Norman Rockwell that I knew.
How I long to go back up the river, find that bridge and haul the holiday back over to the other side. I want to celebrate Christmas in the old-fashioned way with Rockwell and Clement Moore.
How I long for a time when wishing someone a Merry Christmas was not considered an act of political incorrectness.
How I long for celebrations of Christmas of long ago, when times were slower, friendships were deeper, humor was less trenchant, activities were less frenetic and gifts were more personal and practical.
How I long for a time when softly burning candles predominated instead of eye piercing lasers, strobe lights and electric lights.
How I long to go to the village church for the hanging of the green and sing carols and hear the Christmas story read.
How I long for a time when candy canes and oranges were in every stocking on Christmas.
How I long for pensive, peaceful, quiet interactions with family and friends.
How I long for times of reflection and quietude as I ponder the reason for the season.
How I long for thoughtful interludes of music, poetry, literature and conversations that give peace to the heart, tranquility to the ear and solace to the mind.
That is the way my family will celebrate Christmas in 2012. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State University -- four times. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168.