What does Christmas look like? Please take a moment to bring those images to your mind.

Each of us will conjure up our own pictures of what this special holiday looks like. Maybe Christmas looks like childhood. Maybe you picture your home all decorated. Maybe you see your first neighborhood, your town square, a city celebration you have attended for years, a family tradition or a church musical.

Christmases of years past focused on very different things, I think. If we listen to the words of the old Christmas carols, it gives us insight into what Christmas looked like then. For instance, there’s mention of many things having to do with nature and being outdoors. I love that.

Carolers were out singing to neighbors; horses and sleigh rides were being enjoyed; families were walking in winter wonderlands searching for a tree to cut down; holy nights with stars shining brightly; shepherds in fields, mangers and hay; angels singing over the plains; decking the halls with holly; hanging ivy; white Christmases; nuts and open fires; and so on.

When those lyrics were being written, Christmas seemed so much simpler.

If we think about it, many of us might admit that Christmas has “morphed” into a new look, almost to the extent that it’s completely changed. With technology comes change — in decorations, music, clothing, travel, how we celebrate, when we begin celebrating, etc. It’s come a long way from decorating the tree on Christmas Eve and getting fruit in a stocking.

To me, Christmas is one of those times that prompt warm feelings of family, traditions and faith. And even though I grew up in Texas and never had a white Christmas, those outdoor images of Christmas and nature were burned into my memory through songs and Christmas card pictures. I think I could have lived back in the days when Christmas was about enjoying family, nature, community and life’s simple blessings.

Is it possible to keep those mental pictures of what Christmas looks like to us in our families today? I think so. Focusing on the simpler things when we are together, keeping old traditions alive, spending more time outdoors doing activities in nature, all help to teach the newer generations of our families and preserve that Christmas of old.

So whether you see Christmas as it is now or as it was back then, it is definitely a time of year to celebrate.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking


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