Monday, December 5, 2016

The Spirit of Christmas Past. . .and Lessons Learned

Do you tend to wax nostalgic at Christmas? I do. Hopefully all of us have better memories and fewer regrets than Ebeneezer Scrooge. Though he didn’t enjoy his tour with the Ghost of Christmas Past, perhaps you’ll enjoy a similar tour here at The Word Place.

1944 - 1965 -- San Angelo, Texas --
shopping for just the right tree,
wrapping presents
waiting for Santa to arrive (with candy!) on the roof of the hometown newspaper,
non-politically correct school Christmas programs and parties,
a busy downtown hung with tinsel and ornaments and populated by smiling people,
the Hanging of the Greens at church,
participating in the Living Nativity put on by our church,
Christmas choir cantatas,
special television programs (especially Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”),
warm, cheerful gas heaters,
aromas of tasty Christmas treats

Tree Decorations circa 1940-50

Favorite gift from grandfather around 1947-48

1965 -- Denton, Texas -- final Christmas as a senior at TWU; “adopted parents” gave me an angel doll with the explanation, “It’s your last Christmas. . .” I still treasure and display it year-round.

A doll for a 21-year-old who was thrilled!

1966 - Kinshasa, Zaire--My first Christmas away from home and family-- singing  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas (if only in my dreams)” with the missionary community on the tennis courts of the American School where I taught.

1968 -- Luluabourg, Zaire --a bride of six months decorating a homemade Christmas tree (cedar boughs wired to a wooden frame) with one small package of glass ornaments bought locally and a couple dozen “ornaments” fashioned from old Christmas cards strung with green twine. I still have them today.

Fragile ornaments bought in 1968 and Christmas card cut-outs to fill in
1971-- San Angelo, Texas--Christmas in my hometown with a 7-month-old who loved the boxes and ribbon more than what came in them

1975 -- Houston, Texas -- Baby #2 just 1 day short of 1 month old--celebrating in first (non-rented) home

1978 -- Houston, Texas -- last Christmas with my husband Jim who died in a plane crash 5 days later

In the intervening years, I celebrated many Christmases--a mixed bag of sweet and sad, including 2012 in Hawaii with blue skies, sunshine, and balmy temperatures! The year after my husband died I expressed my emotions in a poem which ended

We go through the motions, and we carry on…
But, oh, this Christmas,
Daddy’s gone.

I’ve carried on, and, like Scrooge,  learned a few things along the way:

Christmas will come whether or not we’re “ready" for it.
Music, small keepsakes tucked away, and unexpected memories 
keep past Christmases in our hearts.
The joy and wonder of children makes us children again, too, if only for a season.
Christmas isn’t giving gifts but rather receiving the greatest gift of all--Jesus.
Christmas isn’t a day but rather a season of the heart.

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