The Changing Landscape of Christmas

With Christmas just a few days away, I find myself reflecting upon how the holiday’s meaning has changed for me through the years.  Personally, Christmas has never been about religion.  I started as a Roman Catholic, converted to Methodist over 20 years ago, and now call myself a “transcendental deist” (an invented term for my spiritual identity).  When I think of Christmas, it’s not so much about the baby Jesus, but more in the context of spending time with friends and family.

My father, Joe Perrone Sr.

As a child, when we lived in the projects in Brooklyn, an open house at Christmas meant exactly that: the door to our little apartment was wide open to family and friends—literally!  My dad had a spinet piano (I have no idea where it came from—or where it went when we moved out of the city), and he would play Christmas carols for hours on end, while neighbors would drop in for a “high ball” and a song.

My mother, Lyle Perrone

My mom and dad are long gone, but not my memories of them.  I’ll never forget all the trouble they went to in their efforts to surprise my brother and me at Christmas.  Their spirits will always be with me.  Somehow, they always managed to make us happy, whether it was with a special gift that we had asked Santa for, or by allowing us to stay up past our bedtime to watch I Remember Mama and the episode about the barn animals that talked on Christmas Eve.

Later, as a father myself, I recall tromping up and down the stairs and down the hallway to my young sons’ bedrooms, shaking sleigh bells and shouting “Ho ho ho,” in my best Santa impression, then playing dumb the following morning when I asked if anyone had heard anything unusual in the night.

One Christmas, as the president of our local Chamber of Commerce, I dressed as Santa and sat in the park and listened while neighborhood children told me what they wanted for Christmas.  My wife brought my two sons to see me, and they sat on my knee and told me what they wanted without ever suspecting that the right jolly old elf was me.  Years later I revealed the truth and we all had a good laugh.

This Christmas will be different still.  My granddaughter is three and fully aware of the secular significance of the holiday.  I can’t wait to see her reaction as she opens all the presents she will receive.  I got such a kick as my wife and I shopped for her gifts. Imagine me, the ultimate “jock,” selecting a super feminine winter coat for my little granddaughter.   Times sure have changed.  Next Christmas we’ll have a second granddaughter, and things will take another turn. And so it goes. 

There is another aspect of Christmas that is at once comforting and dismaying: it’s that of growing older.  If we’re lucky, our family has grown through the years and we look forward to spending the holiday with them.  However, some of my friends are older than I am, and have lost their mates recently.  They find themselves alone and vulnerable for the first time at this emotional holiday season.  Others are in poor health and unable to travel to be with family.  I’m sure many of you are in a similar situation.  Aside from the traditional celebration of the Christmas holiday, I urge everyone to open their hearts and to think of those less fortunate.  Invite a widow or widower who is alone to join your family on Christmas Eve.  Or call an old friend who has fallen upon hard times and wish him or her a Merry Christmas.  It’s not all about gifts under the tree, or enjoying a big dinner.  It’s about humanity and loving one another.  That’s the true meaning of Christmas.  And that’s just the way it ought to be.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and a healthy and happy New Year.

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at:
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22 Responses to The Changing Landscape of Christmas

  1. Glenda Beall says:

    Christmas is more secular these days, I’m afraid, for many.. I am glad my family goes to church and sings in the choir. I can’t attend church because of allergies, but I listen to Christmas carols and sing along. Mostly now, I remember those dear ones who have gone on and think of the wonderful memories of Christmases past. I have two friends who have recently lost husbands and my heart aches for them. Christmas is now bittersweet, but filled with love. Good post, Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Glenda. I think for those who aren’t committed Christians, Christmas still serves as a time of fellowship and at least reminds people what it’s like to think of others before themselves. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 Best to you in the new year.


  2. Dave Hinson says:

    You sure did have good looking parents ! What happened to you ??
    Just got back from Minnesota and now reading your post.

    Hope you had a great Christmas, and wishing you and Becky a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

    Dave and Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  3. allenrizzi says:

    Wow! That may very well be the best thing you have written. I share your sentiment and remember the many great times spent with family over the last 69 years. Christmas IS family love. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Merna Clemens says:

    Morning Joe. This is one of the more special days in my life as it is the birthday of my eldest daughter – my best Christmas present ever! As I read your blog it brought back the feeling s of years ago Christmas ‘ . My favorite memory is of ” i remember Mama and the night the animals talked. I’m so glad someone else remember s it !!!!!! Love to you and yours. Enjoy that little girl. As you know, time goes so fast. Micki

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely post, Joe! Times change, but the message stays the same–LOVE is what it’s all about. Wishing you and yours Peace, Love & Joy at Christmas and every day! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. balroop2013 says:

    I love your idea of ‘opening your heart’ Joe. Merry Christmas to you and Becky, dear friend and a joyous welcome to 2018, full of happiness and good health. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jane Swanson says:

    This was beautiful Joe. What a pretty mother you had. My Dad played the piano and sang too.Merry Christmas to you and Becky and enjoy making memories for the granddaughter that we share..Jane

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Richard Fuller says:

    Thank you, Joe. Looking forward to your 2018 blog.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Allie P. says:

    As I prepared my holiday cards this year I was struck by how many changes took place this year. Some were sad, others were more positive, but it did seem as if there were more than usual. Congratulations on your upcoming new addition to the family and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Al Mosier says:

    Merry Christmas, Joe!🎄🥗

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  11. The landscape regarding Christmas has changed as you so well stated. I do find myself hoping that it has not yet become just another day to eat too much, drink too much and foolishly spend more money than we should. The spirit of Christmas is meant to be different.

    Liked by 1 person

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