I ADORE CHRISTMAS—EVERYTHING ABOUT IT!
I am awed by the blinding light of hope that descended upon this darkened world with the advent of Christ—the light that still shines in every dark corner. I love baby Jesus, the shepherds, the angels, the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I’m reminded that all the beauty and brightness of Christmas finds its source in this glorious light.
Honestly, I am annoyed by people who complain about Christmas, and long for it to be over and done with. Yes, it is tiring and sometimes stressful, but it’s a sort of happy tiredness. There is a sense of satisfaction at what you accomplished today. You just might be able to get it all done after all.
Today, I am thinking back seventy-five or eighty years to my first remembrances of Christmas. We lived poor, but my Mama always made Christmas special. There was no money for fancy, expensive gifts, and we didn’t need them. It is amazing what a child can and will love.
When I was almost four, Santa brought me a little wooden doll’s bed. I can still see it. I must have had a dolly too, but I was thrilled with my little brown bed carrying it from room to room. I don’t remember other gifts that year. The bed was enough. And, that was the momentous year, when my ten-year-old brother decided to set me straight about Santa Claus.
“There is no Santa!” he declared.
I didn’t believe him. I still don’t believe him. The little girl in me loves Santa. For me, he takes nothing from the real significance of Christmas. I have no trouble with beautiful things that have become tradition.
Mama always bought Christmas goodies—apples, oranges, hard candy and orange slices, nuts still in the shell, and old fashioned chocolate drops. They were the best. They looked like little delectable mountains—strawberry, vanilla, and maple centers robed in dark chocolate. Yummmm!!!
I don’t ever recall having a Christmas stocking. My mother always divided the treats equally between family members putting them into little brown paper bags, one for each of us. Those goodies were mine. I could eat them all making myself sick ruining my dinner, or I could squirrel them away and make them last until New Years.
In my hometown, there was always a treasure hunt on Christmas Eve. All the merchants, on Main St., offered a giveaway. If you held the right number, the gift was yours. So, in the cold, early evening of December 24, Mama, June and I walked the few blocks to town looking in every shop hoping against hope that we held the magic number. I don’t think we ever won anything, but just being there with the bright lights, beautiful window displays, and the bustle and clamor of other hopefuls was intoxicating.
More than one Christmas Eve I came home with an earache. My little ears were sensitive to the cold December air. Mama would awake to my cry in the middle of the night bringing a little cloth bag of salt, which she had heated on the back of the stove. With a kiss, she placed the warm bag on my ear. The heat and weight of it relieved the pain. Or was it the kiss that worked the magic?
Christmas dinner was phenomenal. Two fat hens roasted in the oven stuffed with Mama’s luscious cornbread dressing laced with an abundance of sage. All week the house had smelled of sugar cookies and mincemeat pie baking in the oven.
Mama made a delicious raisin, spice cake, but she always said, “It just doesn’t seem like Christmas until my coconut cake is finished.”
Mama’s three layer coconut cake frosted with airy White Mountain frosting and oodles of coconut was the epitome of Christmas in our house. A slice of that cake and a helping of strawberry Jello filled with apples, bananas and pecans was the best bite of the day.
After I was an adult, I decided to improve on Mama’s coconut wonder. I used lemon instead of yellow cake, and I spread lemon filling between the layers. It was good, but it wasn’t the same, and Mama didn’t mind saying so.
The gifts had been opened, the wrappings disposed of. Of course, Mama always saved ribbons and the larger pieces of paper—wrinkles and all.
I can still hear her say, “Careful, careful. Don’t tear it.”
She could press out the wrinkles and use the paper again next year. That’s how you save money.
Our kitchen and dining area were combined in one fairly large room. Today the open concept is greatly desired. For us it was a simple necessity.
In those early years, we were all at home. Nine of us sat around the table, bowed our heads and thanked God for His blessing, and devoured the wonderful meal Mama made.
We all knew well the import of Christmas. We knew about God’s wondrous gift to this world. Most of us had accepted that gift as our very own.
Not a one of us owned a checkbook or a bank account, but we were, oh, so rich because of God’s generosity. Jesus made the difference!
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given…And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.
JESUS WANTS TO BE YOUR VERY BEST GIFT THIS CHRISTMAS.
THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW