I love Christmas - the decorations, the tree, the gifts, the baking, the special meals, the surprises for people, the caroles - I love it all. It's truly my favorite time of the year. I even loved the cold weather......and the snow when we had it. In fact, that's one of the things I miss about the Christmas season now that I live in South Africa and Christmas is in summer. After several years, I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that. I've just had too many years of winter Christmases. I have friends that don't really like Christmas all that much. I mean, sure they like it because we are celebrating Christ's birth, but they don't like all the other things that I so love. It got me thinking about why I love everything about the Christmas season.
I know it has its roots in my growing up years. Every year my dad and I would go shopping together for the Christmas tree. We always wanted to find the perfect one, and we came close! We had a beautiful fir tree every year. We'd come home and join with my mom (Memaw) and decorate it. Of course she always had special baked/cooked treats to eat while we did that. Then on another day, my dad and I would put up outside lights. We had a two story house, and we got ladders out so we could decorate both levels. It wasn't anything fancy, but those bright, colored lights were so beautiful to me because my dad and I had put them up. I treasure the memories of us doing these things together every Christmas.
Every year my Dad said he couldn't afford any gifts. And every year, just a few days before Christmas, he'd ask me to take him shopping. He had been tucking money away and would buy my mom and me and some other family members special gifts. Of course by the time he got around to doing his shopping things would be really picked over! I learned as I grew up to ask some shop keepers to hold things until I brought my Dad in! Seeing his true generous heart was such a treasure.
My Dad was a product of his generation - one that had a hard time showing emotion and expressing feelings. As a child I often wished he would do that more. I think Christmas is when I really saw my Dad's heart and came to know who he was inside. I treasured that!
Close to Christmas we usually had a family dinner when other members of my family that lived nearby would come over - my sister and her family, one of my brothers and his family......and sometimes others who lived further away would come in. I often joke and say my family talked a lot but didn't say much. We talked about everything, but rarely was it "heart" stuff. Except at Christmas......and then it seemed that people opened up more and shared their hearts. This was another treasure for me.
My mom never had a lot, but she shared everything she had - all the time, but especially at Christmas. She cooked and baked up a storm! She took platefuls of all her special treats (divinity candy, candied grapefruit rinds, Spanish kisses, and delicious pies to name a few) to just about everyone she knew. My friends loved to come to my house and sample it all! Even though I've tried, I still haven't mastered cooking some of her specialties. My family wasn't poor, but we didn't have a lot of extra either. My mother gave out of her gifts and talents because she had such a generous spirit. I treasure that memory so much.
As parents, we want to establish family traditions and make memories that our children can take with them all their lives. I have those special memories tucked away in my heart........and they help make Christmas so very special to me. I love it!
O come, O come Emmanuel...."God with us." Matt. 1:23