F. Flobo Boyce remembers neighborhood Christmases with his family.
Though sometimes my own faith wavers, my parents made sure to squeeze every bit of “holy” out of the holidays. While other kids had wish lists a mile long, we were more focused on saying grace over Christmas Dinner. We got a handful of toys sure, but never enough to make the other kids jealous.
I believed we were in an unique situation. Our pared down version of celebrating Christmas was every bit financial as well as cultural. My parents, immigrants from the Caribbean, understood Christmas time as a season for renewal. Instead of pine trees and endless strings of lights, they looked forward to setting up “the good curtains.” So when my father decided on not having a tree—christening a wall of the living room the “Christmas Corner”—I didn’t even bat an eye. I made the mistake of telling my friend in junior high school of the change. It would be a mistake I would make only once.
On a street filled to the brim with lights, our front porch was usually bare. One year I was so frustrated that we weren’t keeping up with the joneses, that I threw the biggest tantrum I could muster. It had been years since we put up the last set of lights in the window and it was a tradition I wanted back. The answer was still a resound no, but my parents offered a compromise: They would take my brother and I sightseeing around the neighborhood.
And so our family went, into the crisp winter night looking at the lights of other homes. We enjoyed our time together, wondering how many hours each house took to decorate. It was there I believed that we had the holiday spirit all along, Christmas Corner or otherwise.
Photo: Dave Lundy/Flickr