Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Memories

Christmas has always been a special time of year for me. As a child I know that my main focus must have been on what gift I wanted and eagerly anticipating Santa’s arrival on Christmas morning. I also remember the great joy as the decorations made their way out of hiding and the house was filled with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. Our home was always decorated, there was an abundance of baking, and our homemade ornaments covered the tree.
As I was preparing for this evening I was thinking back to the all Christmas I have experienced. I don’t remember many of the gifts my parents bought for me. I couldn’t tell you what the newest toy was that I just HAD to have each year. And I am sure that most of the gifts I received are long gone, broken and forgotten. The things that stick out the most clearly in my mind are the traditions that had nothing to do with presents or Santa Claus, but rather with family, church, and the Christmas story.
Spending time with my family has always been an important part of the Christmas season for. I remember when I was younger my mom always took the time to bake a gingerbread house from scratch and helped us decorate it with candy. It was a special time together laughing and having fun. Mysteriously the candy never lasted very long and by Christmas Day all that was left was the half eaten gingerbread house.
For as long as I can remember about a week before Christmas our family had a tradition of eating a big dinner and going out for a drive together to look at all the Christmas lights in the city. It was a great to spend time together. We would always end our evening by driving through the live nativity scene on Gladwin Road. The Biblical account of Jesus’ birth was written out on large boards and beside each verse were people dressed up acting out the scene. It was always a beautiful and powerful way to wrap up the evening. I have been very lucky to grow up around a family that has taught me the real meaning of Christmas.
Each year my Dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible while Daniel and I waited patiently for our chance to dig into the presents. I must admit there were years when I wished that he would just read it quickly and that we could get on to the gifts. But now as an adult I treasure the sound of his low voice reading the beloved words slowly and carefully, giving my imagination time to create the images from so long ago.
Church was also a main part of Christmas time for me. I loved seeing the Advent candles flickering at the front of the sanctuary and singing the familiar carols leading up to December 24th. But my favorite Christmas tradition at King Road was participating in the Sunday school program on Christmas Eve. I looked forward to this program all year long, and always enjoyed learning the new songs and actions. I always loved hearing the Christmas story come to life and participating in this evening. There was nothing that could keep me from participating in that evening. I’m sure that the candy bag at the end added to my eagerness! Even now years later, I find myself humming some of the songs that I learned during my Sunday school years.
Now that I am a mother I have a new appreciation for the traditions that my parents established as I was growing up. I realize how wonderful and precious these memories are to me, and I want to pass them on to her. I want her to know that Christmas is not about presents and Santa, but about the birth of Christ.
I hope that Ron and I can continue the traditions that have been established by our families and even add a few of our own. I hope that in 25 years when Naomi looks back on her Christmas memories she will see that we have preserved the legacy of the true Christmas, and the importance of family.

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"To laugh often and much, to win
the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false
friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, or a garden patch... to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This
is to have succeeded!" - Emerson