The Christmas Tree-Final Chapter

19 12 2010

I recently asked a friend to tell me her fondest Christmas memory. She struggled until she came up with one Christmas when she was about six years old, which was particularly memorable because of the presents she got from Santa. She, in turn, asked me to name my fondest memory. To be honest, there were so many truly happy and warm memories; I was hard pressed to come up with a favorite.

Ralphie and I Had a Lot in Common

For an accurate description of most of my Christmas memories one need only watch A Christmas Story. Growing up in the fifties for me was very much like the story of Ralphie and Randy.

The Christmas Catalog is Here!

For me, the arrival of the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalogue, the Wish Book, marked the official start of the Christmas season. My sister, Cora and I would sit down and go through it marking everything we wanted Santa to bring us. By the time Christmas arrived, we had each changed our minds a hundred times and the pages were marked, remarked and then marked some more. They were soft from wear and nearly every toy page was dog-eared.

Our boys also got excited about the Wish Book!

I marked time remaining before Christmas by the occurring events. After the Wish Book arrived, the days began to grow shorter. The weather grew cooler and the leaves began to fall. Then came Halloween, after which the city would decorate the streets. But when Belk-Tyler’s department store on Nash Street decorated their window a la Higbees in A Christmas Story, you knew it was Christmas. Then came Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, followed shortly thereafter by the city Christmas parade.

In elementary school the excitement of the approaching Christmas vacation got everyone so excited. As Christmas drew closer, we would decorate the classroom with construction paper Christmas trees, wreaths, and all sorts of Christmasy things. The entire school would assemble in the auditorium on the second most anticipated school day of the year-the last day before Christmas break. We actually sang, in school, such old Christmas hymns as Silent Night, Away in a Manger, the First Noel, and others!

On Christmas Eve all the aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mother’s side would gather at my grandparents’ house. I remember Granny would play while we would gather around the old upright piano to sing Christmas carols. Then came the moment all the kids were waiting for; Granddaddy would get on the floor and call out the names on each of the many gifts under the tree. His animated voice and his expressions were something I always wanted to parrot for my own children and grandchildren.

The Magic of Christmas

Christmas morning was like magic. Cora and I would jump out of bed before the rooster crowed, bare feet running across a cold floor to the tree to see what Santa had brought us. I have very clear memories of many of those Christmases and the excitement I felt upon seeing a brand new red bicycle, trucks, trains, or whatever I found. As I said, it was like magic.  

After my wife and I started our own family, we began our own traditions, many of which mimicked those of our families. It was always my wish to make Christmas a special time for our kids so they could one day look back, much like I can, upon very happy Christmas memories. And to my surprise, the memories didn’t stop with adulthood. My wife and I have many fond memories of Christmases with the kids, watching them experience the magic of Christmas, much as I did.

But most importantly, they know, just as my wife and I, the true meaning of Christmas. It isn’t about Santa Clause, or gifts, or trees. It isn’t even about family traditions. It is about a baby who became Savior to the world. It is about the greatest gift of all.

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2 responses

20 12 2010
Stanley Slaughter

Thank you so much for the interesting writings on Christmas. It’s good to hear people stand up for what the meaning of Christmas is all about. I would like to know what church you grew up in in Saratoga. I have some friends that lived ther and a minister who was very close….Merry Christmas

20 12 2010
Bill Taylor

Thank you, Stanley. Frankly, I’m weary of politcal correctness and trying not to offend anyone. Jesus is the reason and nothing anyone does will ever change that. We were members at Saratoga Fee Will Baptist before moving to Wilson. We then moved our membership to Calvary FWB across the street from Hackney Hall on the campus of Atlantic Christian College. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Merry Christmas!!

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