A few thoughts about Christmas

“From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.”Β  ~ Katherine Whitehorn

It never ceases to amaze me how much Christmas ‘stuff’ miraculously appears almost overnight in the shops. I was out with a friend at the mall yesterday, and Santa’s elves had been really busy, decorating all the shop windows. In the centre court, there was a lovely display. We looked down on it from above,


and then went down the escalator for a closer view and to take more photos. It would have been nice to get a pic of my friend sitting on this throne, but it’s a good thing we didn’t decide to implement this idea,


as a very officious person suddenly noticing our cellphone cameras, ordered us not to take any photos. It was too late however, as we already had a few. Father and Mother Christmas were sitting patiently, waiting to hear children’s requests for presents. This reminded me of a cartoon I once saw, where a little girl says to Santa,”…and this year, be sure to keep the receipts, okay?”


My memories of childhood Christmases, are very happy ones, not because we got loads of presents, but because of the good times we shared as a family. Our parents didn’t have much money to spend on toys etc., but they made sure we always had the traditional sock filled with nuts, fruit and candy, as well as a pillowcase containing just enough items to bring us joy and excitement on Christmas morning. My best remembered present was a dolls house which our dad had secretly made for us in his garage. There were tiny pieces of furniture as well as rugs and bed covers that mom had made out of scraps of fabric. My least exciting present was the obligatory manicure set from my aunt, who seemed determined that every Christmas, I should receive the right tools to cut and file my nails. Nevertheless, we were taught to always write ‘thank you’ letters for anything we received, a good habit which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be very prevalent these days.

This Christmas, we won’t, for various reasons, be spending it with family. I think it’s probably the first time ever. All my Christmas ornaments are still in storage in South Africa, but I did bring one precious and easily transportable decoration. A dear friend made this for me a few years ago.


I have hung it on my kitchen chandelier, and it looks so nice that I’m going to go to Pier 1 Imports and buy a few more ornaments to keep it company. I also have my Boyds Bear calendar, which has this picture for December. Why is it that Teddy Bears never smile?


It’s a beautiful sunny but cool day here in Florida. Tomorrow is my third art class, and I have a bit of homework to do, reading up on colour mixing. We’ll be having a spot test, so I’d better know my stuff. Hope your week is going well.






96 comments on “A few thoughts about Christmas

  1. I have such fond memories of childhood Christmases, too. There was something magical about it. I hope my children feel the same, though our holidays now seem so rushed and frazzled with stops at too many houses. Hopefully that’s just my perception, not theirs.

    and – I carried on the tradition that I was raised with. My children do write thank you notes. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Juliann. I’m sure your children enjoy their Christmas just as much as you did in those quieter times. I do understand what you mean about “rushed and frazzled” though. πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas to you.

  2. I’ve noticed that bears don’t smile too. I suppose it’s because of they have fur on their face. 😊
    The ornament your friend made is gorgeous. A real treasure. I love getting ornaments. It’s the best gift. 😍
    I wonder why photos were prohibited. I thought the decorations are for the viewers to enjoy and photograph. I’m glad you captured the ones you did. It’s a beautifully decorated mall. πŸ˜ƒ

  3. Agree with your thoughts on a simpler Christmas. My best memories are all related to the family spending time together during this holiday! I could easily live without the gifts:) But maybe not without the stocking;)
    Enjoyed reading you blog!

    • Thanks, Madhu. The class went well, and there was no test. It was just a trick to make us read our notes. πŸ™‚ I agree about the kids’-present buying dilemma. We usually just do a money transfer, which isn’t nearly as satisfying. 😦

  4. Duuuuuuuuude I couldn’t agree with you more. Theses decorations hit before Thanksgiving was over! Crazy! I love the fact that you had good memories of being with family during Christmas time. I’m hoping to do that with my kids to fill them more with good time experiences and less with all the craziness of presents. Don’t get me wrong there will be LEGOS but I’m also hoping they remember the baking of the cookies, the watching of Charlie Brown, the Christmas parade, and the hanging out with mom playing games.

  5. Loved those Christmas memories Sylvia, yes in the days before computers etc life was so much more family orientated, wonder what some of todays generation will remember of their childhood Christmases. Good luck with the test, looking forward to seeing your masterpiece… I’m starting some art classes in the new year, fun isn’t it?

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Pauline. We did have lovely Christmases, without all the hype and commercialism, in the ‘good old days’. I’ve posted my painting progress today. Happily, the test never materialised. πŸ™‚ Look forward to seeing some of your art in the New Year. xx

      • As soon as I’ve finished chatting with my blogging buddies I’ll go straight over to look at your painting. I’m getting all enthused about the thought of starting drawing/painting again.

  6. I’m sure you’ll be making Christmas a fabulous celebration this year, even though it will be different. Think of it as an adventure. Happy Holidays, ad. ❀️ And good luck with the spot test.

  7. Oh Sylvia,your Christmases sound just like mine, right down to the pillowcases, always with oranges and nuts at the bottom (and chocolate umbrellas πŸ˜‰ ), the doll’s house (made by my grandfather) and the manicure kit from my great-aunt!!! No kidding! I’m so grateful for those memories and that I got to make new ones with my own children. Oh, and yes, I’m with you on those thank you letters, my mother instilled that in us and I’m glad she did. I hope your art class went well, can’t wait to see the finished article πŸ™‚ xx

    • That’s so funny, Sherri, even down to the manicure set. πŸ™‚ My mom also taught us that It’s so important to always important to say “Thank you” for a gift. My art class went well, but the painting isn’t finished yet. I think I’m a bit slow. πŸ™‚

  8. It would be so nice to celebrate a far less commercial Christmas but I fear that train left the station long ago. Even so, the best holidays that I remember are those where the family was center stage. I think you chose wisely when you picked an ornament to being with you. It’s colorful, traditional. and has lovely memories attached. Just as it should. πŸ™‚

  9. I’ve been wondering about why the shopping centers are so afraid of people taking photos. I can understand that they don’t want to have the prices of every item published online, so that their competitors can see them, but I don’t understand their: “Oh no!! Someone shared a photo of our decorations!”-paranoia.

    The homemade doll house that you got is a lovely and thoughtful present.

  10. I love this time of year, but I’m not a huge fan of the commercial side of the holiday. For me, it’s about spending time with my loved ones. Happy holidays.

  11. I love your memories of a simpler Christmas…it sounds lovely. Christmas here in the States is far to commercial as far as I’m concerned. I’m happy that you will be spending Christmas with friends as I know you will miss being with your family.

  12. Odd you should mention the dolls house. My father built a replica Shell garage , complete with a lift for the cars in the workshop. I think I was around 8 or 9?
    It was one of those gifts that cemented the belief that my dad could make or fix anything!
    Such gifts are the ones that stay with our memories for ever.
    The only other xmas pressie I recall from my childhood is a bird book that cost 5 pounds ( a small fortune back then) from WHSmiths – I still have it, too!

    Nice post and lovely photos. As always. a pleasure to read.

  13. It’s all got out of control hasn’t it? and the real meaning is lost. As for being told not to take photos -arrgh what is wrong with people! They would have got a very sarcastic comment from me! At least we can still remember simpler times and enjoy things in our own peaceful, loving ways.

  14. I’m not a fan of Christmas either these days. All the food shopping gets me! Mine will be very quiet this year too, but to be honest I prefer it like that. I wish we could go back to a more simpler celebration, but I suspect that won’t happen.

    • Nothing ever stays the same, does it, and progress isn’t always better. I know it’s great to be with the family and grandchildren at Christmas, but it will also be a relief not to be surrounded by a veritable mountain of presents around the tree, which generally which after they are opened, just get tossed aside. Too much stuff really gets to me.

  15. Sylvia I agree that the commercialism of Christmas is astounding. Good for you to capture the photos stealthily. Sounds like something I would do. Sending you best wishes as always.

    • Thanks for the good wishes, Sue. I’m sure you wouldn’t have been intimidated by the security guy. Maybe you would have pretended that you didn’t understand English, and babble something in French just to confuse him. πŸ˜€

  16. Love the ornament – must have taken some time to craft it. I’ll be honest with you – this time of the year is too much for me – all the people and the need to buy as much as they can/cannot afford!

  17. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard parents complain that the kids often prefer playing with the boxes that the expensive toys came in rather than the gizmos they paid dearly for. You’d think they’d learn that often it’s the love that goes into gifts (like your doll house) rather than the amount of money spent.

  18. Gorgeous photographs especially the shopping display…did enjoy reading about your family’s holiday tradition. Now, having a homemade dollhouse, what a rare treat! πŸ™‚

  19. thanks for a delightful read right as I exit form peeking in on blogs the day – and why do those bears not smile – good question!

    I love the homemade ornament too – what treasure – and the Santa’s wonderland has such a blue – I had a similar blue decor in 2001 – caught a sale on some ribbon and well – I think that year the “all white” lights were really in…

    anyhow – cool images (and in the nick of time eh?)

  20. Love your memories of Christmas past Sylvia . Spot test eeek but I’m sure you’ll do your homework πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to The Lighthouse update !

  21. No question, shopping venues have attractive displays. Sorry to hear about this will be your first Christmas away from family … 😦 … but I’m sure you will make the best of the day!

  22. I do find it depressing that the commercialism begins earlier and earlier. That said, I know quite a few in retail who say this is the season that determines how they do for the entire year. So the shopping– while insane, helps many small businesses.

  23. That’s a sweet memory of your childhood, the way your dad made you the doll knowing you’d be happy πŸ™‚

    Can’t understand the harm of taking pictures of the Santa display, I mean word of mouth helps right? hum

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