Palestine Magazine October 2018 - Page 10

CHRISTMAS Find the Magic Reclaiming the real spirit of Christmas E very year, the toy commercials air earlier, the stores decorate earlier, and Santa Claus shares more of the stage with Halloween jack-o- lanterns, as the big-business of Christmas gets underway. Christmas is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States. Older Pal- estine residents remind us that it wasn’t al- ways so. In their memories and hearts, they point the way to renewing the real spirit of the season. “We would set a shoe box under the tree,” said Mary Coker, 83, recalling child- hood Christmases during the Great Depres- sion. “Santa would always put a small doll there for me, and my mother would have sewn the doll two or three dresses. “We’d get an apple, an orange, a banana, and a little candy scattered around our shoeboxes. That was it. But, oh, we were we so happy to get our gifts.” Coker grew up in a poor farm family, with two sisters and a brother. Money never mattered much at Christmas. “We would buy our groceries and gaso- line with stamps,” she said. “Thinking back, my parents must have saved most of the year to give us our Christmas.” Coker smiled, remembering her family Christmas tree with its homemade orna- ments, and garland made of strung popcorn and construction paper chains. Many kids today, she said, have no idea how special Christmas can feel. They are spoiled too much during the year. “It’s Christmas for them year-round,” Coker said. “Whenever they ask for some- thing, their parents buy it. There is no spe- cialness to Christmas for them.” Frances Cortinas, 74, agreed. “The generation of kids today are too en- titled,” she said. “The culture has changed, but we can get it back. We just have to stop being distracted and start living real life.” The distractions – television, social me- me dia, commercialism – were not as prevalent when she was growing up in Dallas. “We made a lot of things,” Cortinas said. “My brothers and I made ornaments, cakes, and pies. Christmas was more about the dinner in our house than it was the pres- ents.” A Catholic school student, Cortinas said the holidays were also more about church back in the day. “We would put on plays about Christmas in school,” she said. “We’d go to mass at our local parish, and we would never forget that Christmas was all about Jesus.” Now the mother of 10 grown children, Cortinas said she tried to teach them her family’s traditions, and instill in her chil- dren respect for the Christmas season. “Growing up, I learned what was valu- able and important,” she said. “I tried to teach all my kids the same.”