Gatherings are good times to remember Christmas past

Published 2:32 am Saturday, December 22, 2018

A month ago I planned to mail my Christmas cards early enough that they would arrive before Christmas day. But it was not to be. All my Christmas card and house preparations fell by the wayside due to an unexpected stay at an out-of-town hospital. Consequently, my family has banned me from the kitchen. On Christmas day instead of overseeing food preparation, I will be stretched out in my recliner with Little Girl snuggled beside me.

Pondering that, I began to reminisce and a question came to mind. How in the world did my mother ever make Christmas so special for us? My children and I have such sweet memories of our Christmas visits with my parents “back home,” when we lived in South Carolina and Tennessee. Mother worked at a Birmingham department store. It involved arriving for work a little later in the day and working late every night during the Christmas season. Yet she managed to have the house absolutely shining, in order, and smelling like Christmas when my family rushed through the front door. She always decorated that door with a big plastic Santa Claus with outstretched arms.

Over in the corner of the living room sat a silver aluminum Christmas tree with a color wheel that showered the tree with different colors as it turned. (That tree captivated me so until Mother finally gave it to me. We enjoyed it at our house for several Christmases.) Under the tree were brightly wrapped gifts, tied with ribbons and bows on top.

A festive cloth covered the table of the maple dining room suite. She topped it with a wooden bowl filled with apples, oranges, and hard candy. She said Daddy always shopped for the Christmas oranges, apples, candy for the table, and grapes for the fruit salad. He saw that we had a variety of nuts to crack, including my favorite Brazil nuts. He provided a nutcracker in easy reach of the unshelled nuts.

Soon after we settled in at my parents’ house after our long trip, I went on the prowl for Mother’s special goodies. I knew her homemade, uncooked fruitcake was tightly wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator. And somewhere close in the dining room, I found her mouth watering chocolate-covered cherries. I could not wait to dig into a familiar tin filled with the absolutely luscious fudge she made from her Mary Ball Candy Store recipe. I have no idea how she obtained it. I have heard that the recipe was supposed to be a secret.

I sometimes watched Mother make her Christmas dressing, but I never wrote down her recipe. I cannot duplicate it, but I finally managed to make it taste fairly close to hers.

When families and friends gather to celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is a good time to recall past Christmases and make cherished memories.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from me and my family.