Christmas Memories!

So, I have to admit that I was shopping tonight with just about everyone else in town and it was kind of crazy. Last minute gift shopping is not my thing. In fact, it has been a while since I have done Christmas gift shopping for my family, and I am quite late in doing so this year. I have to send them up North and being that Christmas is only three days away, they will certainly not arrive before Christmas day. With that said, for the past four or five years or so, due to circumstances beyond all of our control, my family hasn’t exchanged gifts. Most of my family wasn’t able to financially afford to do so, so rather than go beyond our means, we chose to not give gifts and simply take advantage of the special times that we had together throughout the year. My family lives all across the United States, literally. My brother and his wife live in Virginia, my sister and her family live in Chicago, I live in Texas and my parents and my youngest brother and his daughter live in Wisconsin. It has been a good long while since we have celebrated Christmas “all-together,” and to be honest I would much rather celebrate with my family in person than receive a gift from them any day. Why is it that we run around frantically on the days and weeks before Christmas wracking our brains trying to figure out what we must give to this person and that person as a gift? And in many respects, don’t we find ourselves just grabbing anything off the shelf and wrapping it up, simply so we can give someone special “something” for Christmas? Who created this expectation that we must buy, buy, buy and wrap, wrap, wrap, so that we have an obnoxious credit card bill come January that causes great grief and angst? Don’t get me wrong, I completely love and appreciate the giddy laughter and the bright shining eyes of children ripping open their Christmas gifts. I have the most amazing memories of waking up in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas day, running down the stairs and discovering dozens and dozens of presents wrapped in colorful Christmas paper underneath the tree. My fondest memories were looking inside my Christmas stocking, which I still display each Christmas.

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I get all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it, but honestly, I struggle to even tell you a memory I have of a certain “special gift” that I have unwrapped throughout these past thirty-six years of my life. Granted, I have received some very precious gifts and I am ever so grateful for those gifts, but why all the fuss? The precious gift of the Savior is the best and only gift we need at Christmas and celebrating Christ’s birth with family at your side is the ultimate blessing!

On this 21st day of December I would like to tell you about the Christmas memories I treasure.

1. Stringing popcorn and cranberries on fishing line to make homemade garland, with my Grandma

garland

2. Decorating the tree with my family with tinsel (you know, that stringing silver stuff)
3. Traveling to my Grandma and Grandpa on my dad’s side – I loved their Christmas tree the best!
4. Visiting with my dad’s side of the family at Grandma’s house
5. Homemade bread and pickles made by my Grandma on my dad’s side
6. Ice skating at the ice skating rink in town
7. Christmas Eve Bingo with my mom’s side of the family – the BEST!
8. Seeing Santa in the window at our Christmas Eve Party on my mom’s side of the family
9. Playing games around the round table at my house
10. Watching “Home Alone” with my family for the first time
11. Movie Time with the family – must include popcorn, icy cold cokes and much laughter and conversation throughout the entire movie
12. Visiting with my mom’s best friends, Melody, Sue, Donna, Linda and all of their children
13. Making cookies and desserts with my family (My faves: cherry winks, chocolate chip cookies, spritz cookies, date nut bars, apple pie, those cute little Christmas wreaths that had red hots and some kind of cereal and gooey goodness, peanut blossoms, pistachio dessert, this list could go on and on…)

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14. Making homemade turtles (chocolate, caramel, pecans)
15. Going to sleep while listening to New Kids on the Block’s “Merry, Merry, Christmas” tape – yes, this had to make the list.

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16. When my sister Keri “thought” Grandma really did get run over by a reindeer. LOL. Grandma didn’t, but that was the same year the song “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” came out and while talking about it my sister started freaking out.
17. Listening to the radio in the car on the way home from the mall and singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs.
18. The moving, singing Santa that hung on our wall and when you pulled the string it did “jumping jacks” while singing Christmas carols. It is my favorite Christmas “thing” and I wish I still had it to put up today. If you know what I am talking about, I would love to have another one. (It looked very similar to this, but not quite)

santa

19. Strategically placing or pushing (lol) people under the mistletoe so we could kiss them.
20. The way Grandma and mom would decorate the windows  with spray snow using stencils, and then a hanging Christmas bulb in the middle of the window, with garland and Christmas lights.

stencil

21. The multi colored lights on the Christmas tree – I have white lights on my Christmas tree and I miss seeing all the colors.
22. Going Christmas caroling with our church
23. Going to Uncle Harvey’s house to ride on the horse and sleigh
24. Going to Perkinstown to go tubing down the big snow hill
25. Sledding down Squirrel Hill
26. Being in the Children’s Christmas Program
27. Getting a “goody bag” filled with candy, an apple and an orange, after the Christmas program on Christmas Eve
28. The Madrigal Dinner. There was nothing like it! All the choral members at our school would dress up in “old timey” clothes and sing Christmas carols and Christmas songs to a captive audience. We were also served a fabulous dinner and the evening always ended with “Dona Nobis Pacem” being sung in a-round. It was so fabulous. I am getting all teary-eyed just thinking about it!
29. Christmas Eve Candelight Service at St. John’s
30. Concordia’s Christmas Concerts led by Dr. Mennicke – Absolutely the most amazing and uplifting Christmas experiences I have ever had! I wish I had recordings of every one that I was a part of.

So what Christmas Memories do you treasure?  Please share them…

nativity (1)

Luke 2:1-20

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

I hope y’all have a merry, merry Christmas and know you are loved!

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