Saturday, December 11, 2010
Every year as the Christmas season comes around, I find nostalgia overtaking me. Memories of Christmases long since passed flood my mind with warm & fuzzy feelings, and as hard as we try, once we are grown up, nothing can seem to completely recapture that feeling we would get as a little child, as we would attend the Christmas parties, concerts, church services, and, of course, wake up on Christmas morning to stockings & presents under the tree. Christmas becomes different; looks different, as we marry & have our own families & create our own traditions, often drawing from the very ones our parents held to.
Christmas on the Jones country farmstead always provokes feelings of joy within me. There were a few brown Christmases, but for the most part, our Christmases were white with snow, as they should be.
I remember my excitement would begin when they would light the first advent candle in the Baptist church I attended. THEN I knew that Christmas was only a month away! However, a month goes by a lot slower for a small child, than for an adult! With each passing Sunday, we'd get closer to the white center candle, which would be lit on Christmas eve.
There would be Christmas parties in the elementary school I attended. They were always fun, with gift exchanges (through drawing a name out of a hat) & lots of sweets & Christmas music! Best of all, no school work! That last day before Christmas vacation was so exciting! The school Christmas concert was wonderful, as well. I remember starring in one of the productions. I also remember singing traditional Christian songs, which, back then, were not yet forbidden. God was still allowed in schools.
There would be our church Christmas concert as well. Usually, there'd be a play of the Nativity. I remember one year, being an angel in an AWANAS Christmas concert. Because we were involved in so many church & youth group programs, there were no lack of parties & concerts. I also sang either a solo, or a duet with my mom at the Christmas eve services. I was always so nervous!
Every year, we would go Christmas caroling with the church. I immensely enjoyed that! We would visit shut ins & also the old folk's home. I remember we would visit with one lady in particular after wards, & I would sit & gaze at her beautiful artificial Christmas tree with all of the fancy ornaments on it.
When it came to our Christmas tree, it was usually one that was off our farm; always real. We would put it up maybe a week before Christmas. Mom would put the lights on, her set of sentimental breakable ornaments on up high, & the star, then she would allow me & my brothers to decorate the rest. That's why our tree never looked professionally done. Oh, but it was done with love! Mom would hang the mistletoe over the doorway leading from the kitchen to the living room, & she also had these glittery silver bells she would hang. I loved playing with the Santa & reindeer decorations she had. The music of the season was Joan Baez, Evie & numerous others. Let's not forget Alvin & the Chipmunks!
I loved the candlelit service at church. We'd all hold a lit candle & sing "Silent Night". So magical!
Christmas eve would come, & we would attend church. I loved that part. We would sing traditional carols, hear a short sermon, then head home & pray the night would go fast & Christmas morning would come!
My brother, Chris, would usually sleep in my room, since I had a vent in my floor, which was just a hole with bars across it, about 6"x12". Right below it, Mom would hang out stockings on the mantel, & we would try to peek down the hole & see what was in our stockings! Kids, eh? My brother, Geoff always seemed to have a bit more restraint than us.
Christmas morning would arrive. We would dash down the stairs, still in our pajamas & go for our stockings. Mom would always put the 3 pack of mini cereals in our stockings, so we'd have a treat of "junk" cereal we never got any other time of the year, such as Fruit Loops & Corn Pops. We had to eat that before we could eat any of the other "junk".
Once we were all up, we'd gather around the Christmas tree, & Dad would start handing out the gifts. I would wait until I had them all, before opening them one by one. I also liked to stop and watch my family member's faces as they opened gifts from me. I would usually buy Mom bath beads & Dad, chocolates.
After unwrapping our gifts, with the many "oohs" and "ahhs" and "thank yous", my brothers & I would go off & play with our new toys. Mom would get ready for our Christmas dinner. It'd be a lazy relaxing afternoon. I would go up into my room & go off into another world with my new toys created by my vivid imagination.
Dinner would be turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing & vegetables. Mom would bring out the fancy plates & dishes. The kitchen would always be so toasty warm after Mom using the large stove's oven to cook the turkey (which I still remember was a real pain in the behind to use!).
That is the Christmases I grew up with. And this year, for the first time since 1995, I am going to spend Christmas on the Jones homestead with my family. I am excited! Christmas has never been the same for me since I moved out of my parent's house, but to see the joy on my child's face as he looks in awe at the Christmas lights, & the delight as he unwraps his gifts, I grow excited at the prospect of making Christmas as memorable & beautiful for him as my parents did for me.
Lest we forget what Christmas is about. All pagan roots aside, Christmas is an excellent reminder of Jesus & how God sent Him into the world to save it because He loved His creation so much. Christmas is about the most perfect gift of Love there ever was. So as I share my memories of my Christmas past, I am especially grateful & thankful that my parents shared with me the reason for the season: Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas, everyone!