This morning as I watched and listened to Christmas programs with music and narration my thoughts reverted to my childhood Christmases. We never had much that could be called excess and yet there were always presents under the tree; however I have no recollection of any of my presents with the exception of a truck when I was very young. What I do remember are the times with family. I remember the trees and the German tradition from my mother’s side of the family of going to the homes of aunts and my dear grandmother on Christmas eve to open presents. While I don’t remember any presents but the one, I remember the homes, the music, and the warm relationships. I remember Christmas dinner at my aunt Virgina’s home every Christmas day. Those are the things I remember from my childhood Christmases.
As I grew, married, and started a family of my own, we too did not usually have much excess; however I have wonderful warm memories and cherished photo’s from those times.
One Christmas I especially remember was in Rexburg Idaho. We had decided to forgo a Christmas tree that year (much to the scorn of some of my co-workers). Instead, we went around to large appliance stores and retrieved empty and broken down boxes and brought them home. From these we created a stable, animals, Joseph, Mary, and Shepherds. I don‘t remember what we made the manager from but child‘s doll played the part of the baby Jesus. The children with my wife and I colored the people, stable, and animals. In the end we did put up a small tree in the basement; however the nativity and the time spent with our children is what I remember most from that Christmas. I also cherish the many memories of making treats and delivering them to friends and neighbors. One of my favorite gifts was a hand made warm ear band given to my by a Carmel, a childhood friend, which I still appreciate and wear on cold winter days. We no longer practice the German tradition of opening presents on Christmas eve; but have resorted to the standard Christmas morning; however, every year our children have become used to and expect to sit and read the story of the birth of Christ and share our family prayer before any presents are opened. My hope is that they always remember that He really is the reason for the season.
I love Christmas, it is my favorite holiday, closely followed by Thanksgiving, with the family games and movies we shared (and when we lived in Rexburg the choral music in the old Tabernacle).
I’m not a big fan of Halloween; though my wife is. Over the years we have had many students live in our home. This year we have a wonderful young man from Ulsan Korea. We invited many of his friends over for a pre-Halloween party and carved pumpkins with Koreans, Chinese, and one student from Kuwait. We took great pictures and had a wonderful time that we will and I hope they will always remember.
Most gifts purchased from a store decay and are eventually forgotten; however, there are common threads in all of my best memories from any holiday. They involve creating something (for little or no money) together, they involved building relationships, and they involved giving to and including others. Those are the threads that make fond memories.