Mail Boxes and Old Barns — Sunday Open Forum
My father included this Christmas thought in a letter to my mother which was dated December 15, 1925, as they were anticipating their 1926 marriage:
“Now we are nearing the beautiful Christmas time when we shall pause and see our Christ as the little child who came to save us. May we be as children and accept Him in our hearts, to dwell there through the years that may come for us. Christmas always means more to children than to grownups, so I guess we should all be children again for a day or two in order to receive the true Christmas gift.”
I remembered that letter as I was preparing to share the text of another letter also sent at Christmastime, 65 years later, from me (the youngest of seven) to our mother, 85 years old in 1990, who had been a widow since 1962.
CHRISTMAS MEMORIES ARE MADE OF MANY THINGS
Snowy roads that raise the question, “Can we still get to the church tomorrow?” with the usual answer being, “Yes, I think so. We may have to go the long way ‘round, though.”
Turkey and all the trimmings making the house smell so good on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Waiting for Dad and older brother to finish chores early, since we knew nothing special could happen until the chores were finished and they got cleaned up)
The arrival of the first relatives’ cars. Waiting impatiently for the arrival of the last relative’s car, so we could get down to business!
Candles lit on the dining room table. The endless meal with all of the visiting and chatter—hoping that dessert would be left “until after the presents” (it usually wasn’t)
Singing the carols, listening to Dad read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and waiting anxiously for that last line, “and the shepherds went on their way, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.”
Singing the last carol, “Silent Night,” and opening the wonderful presents. “Wonderful” never meant expensive or huge—they were wonderful because they represented family, tradition, provision, love, predictability (and how many families are there where nothing is predictable—there’s security in that predictability) and very often, the packages included a new pair of flannel pajamas. In a way, the pajamas were my favorite present, because I could literally wrap myself in a Christmas present when I went to bed that night.
Even when we didn’t have company, Christmas Eve was like this—always very special whether there were four of us or 16 of us.
Christmas also meant that Dad got the corner tree (by the transformer pole) strung with electric lights, and ran the thick extension cord in through the coal window.
Christmas Day afternoon, wherever we were, often included sliding and tobogganing until we were about frozen stiff and in desperate need of that wonderful “made from scratch” real cocoa (the kind nobody knows how to make any more) full of melting marshmallows, best enjoyed with a slice of homemade bread with home-churned butter on it, to dip in the cocoa.
I wanted her to know that I remembered.