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Dec. 2011

Christmas is coming! It’s Jesus’ birthday!

I get as excited as if I were a kid again. I can’t wait to get the tree up, my husband (grumbling all the way) to put up the outside lights, the shopping done, and wrapping begun. It’s so much fun to also unwrap those treasured ornaments, and things that have a special spot to be placed each year, reminding me as I pass, Christmas is coming! It’s Jesus birthday!

I hope everyone who reads this column has their own special memories of Christmas’ past. I have more memories than I could possibly share in this one space, but I’ll conjure up one or two of my family’s hysterical moments that add to things we reminisce over every Christmas, and still laugh like fools about all these years later—members of my family are the kind who roll on the carpet holding their sides, begging for mercy because they’re laughing so hard they hurt—been there, done that!

Here is one story that always comes to mind, and Mom, (who we lost this past April) laughed hardest when it was mentioned…

I was grown and married with two children when this particular Christmas came about. The family was all gathered at the folk’s house, (as usual). Mom had the place decorated, and Dad had put up the tree for her, and helped decorate the tall branches since Mom was a wee, little gal—unlike her only daughter, dang it!

Anyway, we traditionally opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, so after a huge dinner with all the trimmings, we gathered ‘round the tree in the living room as Dad played Santa—red and white fur hat that had been passed down through the years to whomever was appointed to play the jolly, old gift-giver perched on his bald head.

We all thought he was doing really good until all the presents were passed out, and it was then he spotted the very last one pushed way back in the corner under the tree. There was only one way to retrieve it, and that was getting on his stomach, and snaking under low branches to grab the forlorn gift. This Dad figured out without suggestion from any of us circled ‘round watching intently.

Dad was six-foot-two, and never had an ounce of fat on him, (still doesn’t at age ninety) so we thought his crawling underneath the now barren looking tree would be a snap, which it was—until he grabbed hold of that one, lone gift, then tried slithering backwards out of his precarious position.

One little scoot, package in hand, and the whole tree came crashing down on top of him, ornaments flying in all directions, and everyone who was gathered for the festive occasion was literally screaming with laughter, and rolling on the floor immediately.

Passing three or four minutes in raptures of hilarity from all of us, we finally heard Dad, still trapped under the tree, hollering in expletives I dare not repeat here, for one of us fools to lift the #$%^&*(*%$#$%&* tree off of him.

We were so weak with laughter, I forget who finally came to his rescue, but I would suppose it was one of my brothers, Clyde or Steven. I know it wasn’t Mom who couldn’t even hear a hint of the story for years thereafter without going into wild, breathless giggles.

This had to be the blue-ribbon winner of funny remembrances of our holidays…

We kids ate great feasts on those holidays, then, we’d fly out the door to go sledding. Life was carefree, and one big, bundle of pure joy. We were poor as church mice, but didn’t know it because our bellies were full, we had clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, and were pretty much living the same life as everyone else in our quaint little town.

We still have scads of pictures of those fun times of our youth, and they always conjure up sweet, and funny memories—like when my mom’s mother, (who was a tea-totaller) tipped up a whiskey bottle with the cap sealed tightly, and pretended she was guzzling the brown liquid down like an old hand at hard drinkin’,—that bottle was given to dad as a Christmas gift from someone he bought tires from all year long for his logging trucks, and I’m sure it did another twenty years of aging on the shelf since Dad was no drinker!

My family always cherished Christmas photos partly because it was amazing to look back on pictures from the previous year, and see how much we kids had grown and changed from one year to the next.

Jesus did not go unnoticed on the holidays either. Moms made sure we were all shined up for our Christmas plays when we were in grade school, and we were also in the Christmas choir at church. We didn’t grow up thinking Christmas was only about gifts, and celebrating in town halls and private homes. Thank God, we were all drug to church by the ear, (kickin’ and screamin’ at times), but we went just the same.

Through the years, knowing we were celebrating the “Savior of the World” on His birthday each Christmas made the holidays so much more special than the rest of the pomp and circumstance that has gotten increasing worse as time goes on.
So, do remember to give to your local charities, and service men & women and their families. Money is tight for so many this year.

Granny Tam

BRING BACK CHRISTMAS!

Where is the Christmas of my youth—
the one my memory holds dear?
Where is the joy in everyone’s face—
knowing Christ’s birthday is near?

********

Where is that one Santa
who came to our town
riding on the fire engine
as kids gathered ‘round?

Santa promising gifts
as down the chimney he crept
on a cold Christmas Eve
where in warm beds we slept?

Where are the traditions
we all recognize
in celebrating Jesus,
and His Heavenly demise,

Biblical stories rehearsed—
a Christmas play at school
before ACLU made Christians
follow ‘Atheist Rule’?

And are those cute decorations—
paper loops, silver star,
we made in our classrooms—
now, not up to par?

We had ‘Christmas Vacation’—
the sum of two weeks.
Not a “Mid Winter Holiday’—
to me that sooooo reeks.

Everyone said, “Merry Christmas”
as they went on their way
buying presents and foodstuffs
for that one, special day.
And retailers waited ‘til after
Halloween and Thanksgiving
to display all their wares,
and they still made a good living.

Sweet musical hymns
waft thru’ every store,
Jesus symbols were everywhere,
but not anymore.

All the churches in town
displayed Christ in a manger,
and doors were left open
to the needy, or stranger.

Every house was alit,
with excitement within.
Aromas of pine,
and sweet apple-cinnamon,

A tree wrapped in garland,
precious ornaments—worn,
reminding our household
of a Savior once born.

Yes, reminders of Christ—
the holiday’s meaning,
and appreciation for
what we were gleaning.

And on Christmas morning
we’d all gather ‘round.
As Dad passed out gifts,
we made nary a sound.

There were holsters and guns
for the boys ‘neath the tree,
and tucked way in the back,
was a doll just for me.

Mom and Dad exchanged gifts
tho’ not much at all,
then they’d hug and kiss—
Mom seemed tiny—Dad tall,

Then, family would come,
or we’d go to their home,
eat, play with our toys,
and find sleigh hills to roam.

But I don’t see Christmas
as it once used to be
with all the traditions
and an un-perfect tree,

Christ at the center,
and prayer at each table
a true sharing of love
between old, and the able.

No more candle-light service,
or calm Midnight Mass—
most parents today think
religion has passed.

It’s all about shopping,
elbow-shoving and greed
when spoiled children at home
have more than they need.

It’s all about presents,
and parties with drinks,
and nobody cares
what our Lord really thinks.

But I’ll celebrate Christmas
as I did as a child,
and try to accept
a nation gone wild.

Tamara Hillman
©2011

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