Another Christmas will soon be upon us. What sets 2020 apart from other years (at least in living memory) is the fact that the sheer amount of turmoil and uncertainty wracking society doesn’t exactly make for joyous merrymaking.
Even though this world has in many ways changed dramatically since I was a carefree child back in the 1980s riding my bike everywhere unsupervised (without a helmet, I must add), playing some of the earliest editions of Nintendo gaming systems, and constructing snow forts, in the weeks leading up to this technology-infused, 21st Century Christmas, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for those special Christmasses of my childhood, which, by the way, seem like forever ago. No doubt if you’re either in or heading toward middle age, or are older, you too feel the same way during the holidays.
During my childhood and youth, I suppose what set me apart from many of my peers was my keen interest in national and international news. Even back then, friends and acquaintances believed I’d either enter journalism or a related field, which, as it turned out, I did. Oh yes, the 1980s. Let’s travel back in time to what demographers and socialists have dubbed ‘The decade of excess.’ From the strong climate of conservatism that permeated every facet of cultural and political life in these days gone by sprung an even greater culture of materialism, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the barrage of toy advertisements at Christmastime that took up more TV time than the actual cartoons we loved to watch.
To a young boy growing up in a small community called Morell on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, Canada, Christmas not only meant getting plenty of presents (that 1980s consumerism was also endemic in children) but also gathering with family members and eating copious amounts of sweets, a ritual that although has been toned down considerably over the years, is one I still partake in during the holidays.
If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was during the Christmas of 1984, I asked Santa for Star Wars figures and a playset. Like many kids of that era, we believed Santa would bring us if not everything our little hearts desired, at least the biggest presents. I was six, my younger sister had just turned two. Muchmusic, the Canadian equivalent of MTV which had been launched a few months earlier, played the latest videos from Canadian and American artists, including Christmas music videos.
A yearly ritual that took place in our home on Christmas Eve was spending a couple of hours at my grandparents’ home. I can still taste the mouthwatering flavor of my grandmother’s fudge, which came in chocolate and brown sugar. This once a year treat would be set up on the kitchen table along with trays of every type of goodie you could dream of. No Christmas Eve would be complete without kids being allowed to open one gift.
After our visit at Nanny and Grampy’s place, it was off to St. Laurence O’Toole Parish outside of Morell for midnight mass. Although the service wasn’t at midnight, to a six-year-old boy, going to church at eight or nine o’clock seemed realllllly late. Needless to say, spending that hour and fifteen minutes in the presence of God reinforced the reality that the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t the chaotic pursuit of mindless consumerism, but the birth of Jesus Christ, the lord, and savior of the world.
This was so long ago, but to the best of what I can remember after we arrived home from church, we watched ‘A Christmas Carol’ or some classic Christmas movie that was on TV. I sound like a genuine fossil by saying this, but back then, the mighty VCR had just made its way into the living rooms of the average middle-class home. DVDs, streaming, and Netflix were words that hadn’t even been invented yet.
For me, as for any other child of that time, waking up on Christmas morning to a bundle of presents underneath the tree was the highlight of the entire season. I wouldn’t even eat breakfast until much later, as my entire focus was ripping apart those brightly wrapped presents and smiling with delight at the wondrous toys Santa had brought down the chimney the night before.
Regardless of who we are or what era we grew up in, Christmas memories stay with us forever. Like all other generations, as we age, we begin to think the world has perhaps gotten worse, busier, crazier, etc., and we reminiscence about the good old days and how everything was simpler then. While I don’t think the world is necessarily all doom and gloom today, I will say that there are benefits to having a childhood that doesn’t involve having one’s face and eyes planted in front of various screens for hours and hours during the run of a day. But hey, that’s just me and my 42-year-old mind talking.
Chris McGarry is a professional freelance writer. He uses his expert knowledge, skills, and personal experience in writing about such topics as real estate, travel, fitness, politics, and digital marketing to create innovative, entertaining, and engaging content for his clients. He writes for Medium, TravelPlus, ThriveGlobal, The Canadian Firearms Journal, and more. His specialty is writing articles and books as well as copywriting and editing and proofreading.