I am at a time of transition.
I no doubt have been for some time now, but as with many things involving calendar-induced change, I tend to think I am immune.
Not that I am in a continuous state of denial about growing old, or want to revel in and bring back my college or high school days. No thank you. Rather, I am comfortable with my age – which just happens to be 55. I just like to think of myself as a young 55, whatever that means. Sure, I posted Sammy Hagar’s famous pre-Van Halen rant, I can’t drive 55 on Facebook for my birthday – but it was just a lark. I love being a Papaw to three lovely, well-behaved…okay three lovely, beautiful, but spoiled rotten grandchildren. (They are actually well-behaved on the whole, if you discount the Tornado path of toys and stuff through our house…)
Sorry – I got off track. It’s just at this time of year that I sometimes think back to my own Christmases of the past. Here’s a hodge-podge of memories, in no particular [including chronological] order. I may come back and add to the list if I think of some special ones that I missed:
* The recon mission. I usually colluded with my younger sister to go on search and find missions throughout the house to locate where Mom hid ours and others’ gifts well in advance of the big day. Applied equally as well to birthdays.
* Eggnog and fudge. My dad was the eggnog connoisseur, and we always drank it without any extra enhancement. After all, we were kids! But the real treat was my Momaw’s incomparable Chocolate fudge. The fudge was kept in a tin that was placed on the attic steps [where it received just the perfect amount of cool air to make the fudge to die for].
* The cool bikes. In Christmas of 1969, my brother [1 year and 3 weeks my senior] and I received new orange spyder bikes with tiger head grips. Shortly after Christmas, in January 1970, our family moved to a new home. I distinctly remember riding our bikes in the chilly January weather in our new driveway.
* The infamous bird ornament. My dog Baron was the first of many Miniature Schnauzers in our family. Someone (probably my Dad) bought an ornament that simulated the chirping sound of birds. It literally drove Baron crazy, and we no doubt got some humor from it. Not that the noise hurt his ears; on the contrary he wanted to hunt it, get it, and kill it. That dog had to have some hound in his blood somewhere along the line.
* Post-Christmas planting. My mother picked out a live tree every year. And we loved the smell, and decorating it as a family. We usually kept the tree up until New Years, and then it was time to haul it outside. Rather than tossing the tree, or grinding it up for mulch, Mom and Dad wanted to plant the tree out in the yard [we had several evergreens on the property already]. So, my brother and I would trudge out into sometimes bitter cold and try to dig a hole in an even more bitterly hard ground. Our tree came with roots and all, which made it that much heavier to carry or pull. Despite our efforts, I can’t recall a single tree that survived.
* The train. I loved our Christmas traditions, even if I have portrayed myself as somewhat of a Scrooge in my adult life [I am recovering]. One of my favorites was a felt Christmas tree banner that was hung on the wall each December. It had 12 square boxes on each side of the tree for the days in the month [through Christmas Eve], and each contained a small “ornament’ held by a pin. Each day, one of us kids [four in all] had the honor of hanging the little ornament for that day on the green felt Christmas tree. One ornament in particular held fascination for me. It was a little blue train engine. Perhaps it was because my grandfather [who I never knew] was a railroader. In any event, that became my special ornament to hang year after year.
* Christmas Knick-Knacks. Our parents have now been in an assisted living facility for a couple of years. For a while we have been packing up things at the house. We were amazed at the amount of Christmas decorations, knick-knacks, odds and ends, and various other Christmas items that my mother had purchased over the years. She simply loved Christmas, and the house reflected that.
* Keeping the Fire Burning. My church today holds a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service each December 24th. One tradition is that at the end of the service, we extinguish the lights and pass the flame as one candle lights another during the singing of Silent Night. The flame is to represent that the Light of the World [Jesus] has come for all people, and we are to take that Light out into the world. In my youth, my home church took that to heart. Today, we turn the lights back on, blow out our candles, and turn in the candle as we exit the church, Practical; saves money on candles. In my youth, we kept our candles burning as we exited the church! If it was particularly blustery night, it was a challenge to keep the candle lit until we reached the car. Then, as we drove home we would see other cars with candles burning inside on the highway. What a vivid image of taking Christ out into the world! I imagine that the practice was stopped in the name of safety or risk management in the litigious environment we currently live in. But as a kid, I loved it.
What about you? What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? I encourage you to write and share on your own blogs. If nothing else, it rekindles brain cells and is a cathartic process for the soul.
Merry Christmas to all.