When I was a little girl, we lived in a colonial (a house with an upstairs, main floor, and basement). My grandpa had died when I was three, so my grandma came to live with us for a while. (This is a photo of that house with my dad. I was probably six or seven that Christmas.) My Christmas memories are sketchy as a child, and the pictures are in my memory rather than actual photos, but I recall family gatherings, always centered around the dinner table where dessert was my highlight! We had "eight-layer cake," which was really a torte made with Cadbury chocolate (oh yum!), and my grandmother's fruit cake, which was better than any fruit cake I have ever tasted since. (My grandma knew how to cook and bake and she loved to entertain! I did not inherit that gene, and am very grateful that Randy bakes our Christmas cookies. No one bakes her fruit cake anymore, but someday maybe I'll talk some family members into helping me make that eight-layer cake again.)
One of my favorite Christmases with my grandma was the first year Randy and I got married. We invited her over to our home and she helped us string popcorn and cranberries for our tree. Newlyweds didn't have a lot of money for ornaments, but I learned quickly how hard it was to string popcorn! That was the only year we did so. (This is rare photo I have of her the year before she went to be with Jesus.)
But, back to my childhood--my grandmother moved from our colonial to an apartment to live with my great aunt, while we moved to a smaller house with a bigger basement. My parents had a ping pong table and every Christmas, my mom would lay all of the Christmas gifts on the table and cover them with a big white sheet. We weren't allowed to peek...but one year (I was probably eight or nine at the time), the temptation was just too great. I had the basement to myself and boxes were all unwrapped. The sheet was so easy to lift, and it was just a little nudge to get the lid off of each box...
I don't know how many boxes I peeked into because none of them mattered until I found one that I knew was meant for me. There is an age gap between my brother and sister and me, so no one else would have asked for toys. And that year, I wanted Gumby and Pokey. (If you watch the Honda commercials right now, my son did the pre-vis (pre-visualization) and directing on the ones with the toy characters - Gumby and Pokey are in one of these. (Watch it here.)
Anyway, that Christmas I found Gumby and Pokey lying neatly beneath layers of tissue paper. Funny how all of the excitement of a desire quickly wanes the moment the surprise is over. I'm pretty sure I pretended to be surprised on Christmas Eve when we opened gifts, but I wasn't. I never, ever peeked at or hunted for presents again!
My favorite Christmas memories during those growing up years though, came the year I read Two From Galilee. I was sixteen, and suddenly the whole story of Joseph and Mary and Jesus meant far more than it ever had before. Those people were real. The Bible came alive for me. And Christmas has carried a whole new meaning ever since.
There are many more memories, especially those that we made when the traditions became our own and when we brought each child home from the hospital and shared their first Christmases with them. But I would have to write a book to include every story.
How about you? Do you have a favorite memory of Christmas Past?
Whether you have time to share it here or not, I wish you the best this Christmas. May Jesus become real to you, perhaps in a way He never has before. And may your memories be sweet.
Come back tomorrow for Christmas Present and Wednesday for Christmas Future.