Preparing for the family#039;s visit

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

As I write, I am involved with preparations for our Christmas family gathering.

While I zipped through the house early Monday, I put away Christmas ornament boxes, gathered an armful of old newspapers and junk mail for recycling and placed the cards we had received in a basket with a red bow on the handle.

There are still dozens of things to do. Several days ago, my husband spent a few hours wrapping his gifts. Mine are stuck in drawers and tucked in plastic bags scattered over the house. I just hope I can find all of them when I get around to wrapping them.

"How did you do it? How did you get everything just right when we came home for Christmas?" I asked my mother last week. She worked long hours in the china shop of a large department store in those days. I knew it was hard for her to get ready for the family Christmas celebration.

I recall years during my husband's army career when we arrived at my parents' home for Christmas. As soon as we opened the decorated door, a wonderful aroma greeted us. It just smelled like Christmas. Everything was bright and shiny.

The Christmas tree towered above a mound of beautifully wrapped gifts. A bowl of colorful fruit stood on the round maple table in the dining room. The carpet was freshly vacuumed. The beds were covered with clean, fresh-smelling linens. Christmas pot hangers hung close to the stove in the kitchen. Christmas towels and wash clothes bedecked the bathroom.

A can of homemade snack mix sat on the kitchen cabinet. The refrigerator was stuffed with food. Mother's delicious no-bake fruitcake was inside. So were a couple of lemon icebox pies.

My mother laughed when I put the question to her about her Christmas preparations. "I started on Thanksgiving," she answered. I nodded. I visualized her buzzing around the house, straightening everything, getting the beds ready, pulling out the Christmas china and polishing the maple table and chairs.

I knew that my daddy took care of special food treats, like the apples, oranges, tangerines and our favorite chocolates. Mother said that several times he told her not to go to so much trouble. Then in a day or two, he "got into the spirit," and arrived home laden with bags of goodies. Mother cooked at night, or early in the mornings before she left for work.

She told me that she never knew her grandparents. She said that she always envied her friends who had grandparents. Long before her marriage, she resolved that when she had a family, she was going to enjoy her grandchildren. She wanted everything special for them. She certainly succeeded. Our family has some very special memories of those long-ago Christmas visits. We were enveloped with love and God's blessings.

I pray that God blesses you and yours with a joyous Christmas this year of 2003.