Memories of Christmas past

Published 8:08 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

Here it is, Christmas 2010, so difficult to believe. As I bustled about the house, pulling out Christmas decorations and ornaments, my thoughts turned to Christmases past.

One of my most memorable Christmases was when our son, daughter, and I sailed across the ocean on the USNS Patch to join my husband in Bamberg, Germany. On Christmas day, despite being at sea, Santa Claus found us. With a lot of fan-fare, he arrived by helicopter to distribute bulging stockings filled with candy and trinkets to each child aboard ship. Somehow, Santa had found his way to our cabin earlier that morning and left toys for our 6-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. We enjoyed a Christmas meal in the dining room, but as hard as those who arranged the festivities tried (and I appreciated what they did), it was nowhere close to Christmas at home with my husband and my parents. I consoled myself with thoughts that every day brought us closer to husband and father.

When my children look back, they speak fondly of Christmas at my parents’ home near Birmingham. They especially remembered the welcoming atmosphere my parents created in anticipation of our arrival. As soon as we opened the front door with a big picture of Santa on it, the children remarked, “Umm, it smells like Christmas in here!” Despite my mother’s long working hours at a department store, she managed to have the whole house bright and shiny. An aluminum tree with a revolving color wheel sat in its usual corner of the living room. Daddy always shopped for the big colorful bowl of fruit centered on the dining room table. We always knew where to find my mother’s stash of delicious fudge made from her prized Mary Ball candy store recipe.

Then there was a Christmas Eve in Cookeville, Tenn., when the four of us stood at the sliding doors at our patio and watched the snow silently pile up in the back yard. It was a glorious sight.

Our daughter recalls the Christmas when her daughter was three months old and Granddad presented the infant with a little red wagon that held a stuffed animal.

One Christmas in Lillian, Ala., my husband, my son, and our son-in-law took the three grandchildren on a search for a live Christmas tree. They set out in excitement and returned with a big tree that they prepared to bring inside, and then set to work laughing and squabbling a little as they decorated it. That same year and several Christmases later, all the family gathered around to play a game that kept us all in stitches as we tried to fool each other about the definition of unfamiliar words.

There have been many changes through the years, but some things never change. When we are all together on Christmas morning, one of us reads the Christmas scriptures before we open presents. Later in the day, we sit around to watch that funny classic movie, “The Christmas Story.”