being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Why I Heart Christmas: A Little Background
For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been my favorite holiday. Today’s post is the first of four that will outline some of my fondest memories of the holiday.
So, sit back. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of eggnog. And take a walk with me in my Winter Wonderland, delusional as it may be. Just an FYI, I’ll be watching The Secret Santa episode of the Office, from Season 2 via Netflix. So, if there are any “That’s what she said” references, you’ll know why.
I’ll admit it, I’m a Black Friday junkie. For the last two Thanksgivings, I have stayed up all night to get some deal or another on Black Friday. My family has been doing Black Friday sales since I was a kid. This year, I drug my family out to stand in line all night to help me purchase gifts for my girls. My parents, as grandparents, are just big pushovers. They’ll do anything for their grandchildren AND my dad can’t resist a good deal. While some people abhor Black Friday, I find it fun. I may have to go to a Support Group for it in the future.
But that’s not why Christmas is my favorite holiday. There are some much more significant reasons why I love Christmas. Of course, the most obvious reason I love Christmas is because it celebrates the birth of my Savior and God’s incredible grace to a dying people. That is why I celebrate Christmas. But I also have so many warm and fond memories associated with this time of the year that make it the best for me.
I have two favorite Christmas songs. One is “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney and the Wings.
I remember sitting in the car on Christmas Eve, waiting for my mom to finish loading all the holiday goodies so that we could begin the festivities at my Grandparents’ home. The radio was playing Christmas music, of course, and this song came on. I remember being so excited (because I still believed in Santa Claus then). Christmas was about to start! All the anticipation that had been building for weeks in my child mind was about to pay dividends. I listened to the song, loving the electronic sounds, the British accents, the children singing “ding dong ding dong”. It’s a good song. Now, every time I hear that song I can’t help but smile. The song embodies all the anticipation and excitement of Christmas for me. I once told my husband that I equated his coming home from Iraq to the anticipation and excitement of Christmas morning when I was a kid. It’s just a great feeling.
My other favorite song, in case you were wondering, is “Sleigh Ride” by Boston Pops Orchestra.
No real memory associated with this song, I just like it a lot. And it can’t be any other version of these songs, it has to be the songs by these artists, or it doesn’t count in my book. Christmas doesn’t start for me until I hear both of these songs. I used to listen to the radio waiting with baited breath to hear either or both of these songs. Now that there’s such a thing as youtube and itunes, Christmas can start whenever I want, even in July.
I ALWAYS helped Mom put up the tree. Many ornaments held special meaning for her, which meant they held special meaning for me as well. Even this year, when I put up my tree, there are a few ornaments that make me think of people, places, and times throughout the years. One ornament we hung on the tree this year was given to us by a little girl who was a friend of my niece’s (our niece lived with us for a few months). She came from a somewhat troubled family who was in a difficult situation. While the ornament itself isn’t anything special, I remember hanging it on my tree last year thinking that I would always remember who gave it to us. I would hold on to it and say a prayer for their family every time I pulled it out of the box (because we weren’t the sort of friends who would keep in touch). When I hung it on the tree this year, I thought of her. Each time Lil’ Linus pulls it off the tree and I return it to a naked branch, I say a little prayer. There’s one ornament left that Hubs and I gave as gifts at our wedding. I have a few ornaments from my childhood. I have a strange knack for remembering the people associated with certain things (like I can almost tell you who gave us all of the wedding gifts that we still own). And so it is with the ornaments on my tree.
When I was a child, my family had many Christmas traditions. Both sides of my family lived in town, so Christmas often began as early as the 23rd (I have two siblings who have birthdays very close to Christmas). On Christmas Eve, mom’s side went to the Candlelight Communion service. After, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a light dinner and gifts. Grandpa often gave a speech. We took turns opening our gifts.
Then we went home (and sometimes we fell asleep in the car). “Santa” needed us to go to bed so he could visit. Mom and Dad would put our stockings out. My sister and I were joking about this the other day. Now that we’re parents ourselves, we understand that this was more of a survival technique. IF
When we got up too early, we were only allowed to play with what was in our stockings. This allowed Mom and Dad AT LEAST thirty more minutes of sleep.
Mom always made cinnamon rolls from the tube (i.e. Pillsbury). That was the only time of year that we got to eat them. So they were always a special treat.
After Dad finished his morning run, we opened our gifts. We usually wore some new article of clothing we had received. Then we took the twenty minute drive to Dad’s side of the family, where we opened more presents. After a huge feast, we’d either take a nap or take a walk. Then we’d head back over to Mom’s side of the family just to say “Merry Christmas!” and snack some more.
There were other traditions thrown in here and there. My dad reads the Christmas story from the Bible before we open gifts. One year we went around Grandma and Grandpa’s neighborhood and sang Christmas carols to all their neighbors. We did that for several years. After presents on dad’s side, we went bowling a few years in a row. Then there were a few years where we all went to a movie.
Christmas has always been a time of celebration and family togetherness. I’m sure there was drama here and there. But I was unaware of it as a child. Christmas was (and still is) a magical time for me.
Mom and Dad made sure we understood why we celebrated Christmas. They gave us the best gift a parent can give their child; they gave us the gift of truth. That a perfect and holy God became a tiny baby, was born under inauspicious circumstances, and came out of love to save the world he created.
Come back tomorrow to hear more about Christmas with my siblings (I have two brothers and two sisters).