I love watching children at Christmas. I adore the sticky faces and fingers from a zealous candy cane eater and the colored icing that always manages to appear on each child’s outfit during cookie decorating and the fun holiday get-togethers this time of year brings. One of the season’s highlights for us as children was Christmas tree shopping.
In our city, there are various groups that host the Christmas tree lots that are stocked with wonderful evergreens. It was always a cold night when all of us would bundle up and head to our favorite tree sale. I can still remember the fragrance as we walked down every row. There is nothing like fresh evergreens.
We could never agree on a tree. The kids wanted the tallest tree on the lot, with total disregard for the height of our ceilings! But our mom and dad would always find the perfect one to fit in our home. We would select the tree we wanted, the Boy Scouts would nail the stand to the bottom of the tree, and then we would take our prized possession home.
When it was all said and done, our tree stood tall as we gazed at what we had purchased, which was always interesting. Dad would get out the lights and place them on the tree first. Back then, we had those big lights that got hot on the tree, not the tiny cool lights of today. Once those were on, we would start decorating with the ornaments we had collected or made through the years. We had some that were so pitiful. They always garnered a laugh, but we hung them anyway. Others were very beautiful ones that Mom painted.
After all the ornaments were on, it was time for the finishing touch—the icicles! Most kids today just don’t know about this ritual. At our house, the aluminum strands had to be hung one at a time to make sure they were perfectly straight. It started out that way, but by the time we finished, my brother was throwing them by the handful just to get it done. We always had carols playing on the stereo while this was going on, and the music just made the season. We each had a favorite, and we would all sing along from time to time. After about a week, every time you walked through the room, you would hear the dry needles falling from the branches and hitting the floor. It was a Charlie Brown tree by Christmas Day!
Stockings were fun, and we loved the small things we got in them every Christmas morning. Christmas memories are priceless. We found out just a few years ago that my brother would talk my mom into letting him open his presents and rewrap them days before Christmas . . . he never could fake surprise! But it was a tradition they shared between the two of them. Our church choir always had a marvelous cantata that was presented the week before Christmas. Our family was always the first one there to get a good seat. Dad held down the tenor section. Mom usually was involved in stage sets or costumes.
Christmas for us was, is, and always will be about family. This year, all of us will be home for Christmas. All the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and my siblings and their significant others will be at our home for our family Christmas brunch. Mom and Dad will be surrounded by their family to have all the fun you could pack into one day. Dad will give us all a chocolate Santa Claus and Mom will make her famous angel biscuits! How blessed we are to have each other.
Celebrating the birth of Christ is a sacred time for us. I hope, this year, you will find Christ at the center of your holiday. May you be filled with joy, love, and peace for this blessed time of year.
Love to you all. You are a gift to me and to the people in your life.
What Christmas memories do you and your family share?