As I grow older, I yearn for the Christmases of my childhood.
Being the first grandchild in the family meant a great deal of spoiling. Though I don’t remember much about those years, pictures relay the joy and giving that took place. Prior to my paternal grandmother’s retirement, she bought presents with abandonment and worked to make Christmas a special day for everyone—especially the grandchildren. Presents waist high lay under and around the tree waiting for eager little hands to open them.
Christmas at my maternal grandparent’s house was practical. They were more into the fellowship—telling stories, hunting, cooking, and eating—than the giving of presents. One or two gifts was all I could expect.
When my giving grandmother retired and could no longer afford to buy mounds of presents, Mom took over the tradition and continued it until she retired. Now, my wife tries her best to keep the abundant giving alive. But things have changed.
My early Christmases were about togetherness. The togetherness lasted for days. They weren’t pop-in visits from children and grandchildren. We hung around, talked, laughed, hunted, and watched ball games together. Never did I hear, “We can be there at ___, but we have to leave by _____.”
In the midst of my childhood Christmases, we always remembered the reason we were celebrating: to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. He overshadowed the presents rather than the other way around. Much like the first Christmas the prophet of old foretold. It too was all about a birth—and it was simple.
We said blessings at Christmas meals, and, just as at Thanksgiving, we remembered God was responsible for all we had and enjoyed.
My childhood Christmases were also times of joy—and not just over presents. We were glad to see each other, to celebrate Christ’s birth, to eat a meal together, and to open presents. Just to enjoy one another’s company.
Divorces and remarriages have now changed the structure of our immediate and extended family, multiplying in-laws and grandparents and dividing our time into tiny increments that temper the joy of being together. Though some of the things from my early Christmases are missing, I still enjoy the Christmas season.
Don’t let the changing seasons of your life steal the real meaning of Christmas. Remember the birth of the Savior, and celebrate it with family and friends.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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