The Fillies have wrapped their last gift and baked their last treat. While they wait for old St. Nick, they’re remembering a favorite Christmas.
We’d love for you to share one of yours.
A favorite family tradition began by accident. When the children were small, I habitually bought Christmas presents throughout the year and hid them. The problem was, some presents were invariably forgotten until after Christmas. One gloomy January, while organizing my closet, I found a set of cars I’d intended Santa to leave under the tree. Not knowing how else to handle it, I entered the room where the boys were playing and announced, “Look what Santa left on the roof.”
Needless to say, the unexpected gift was a big hit. Every year after that, Santa left something on the housetop. The funny thing is, no one ever thought to ask what Mom was doing on the roof.
Christmas is all about family, and last year we tried something a little different. Instead of a big gift under the tree, we decided to give the kids a big experience. So the day after Christmas we piled in the car and drove 2.5 hours to Fort Worth. There we watched the latest Star Wars movie in IMAX, ate an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (browsing in the Barnes & Noble next door while we waited for our table to be ready), then finished the trip by doing an escape room. We had never done one before, but we loved working together to solve the puzzles and figure out the clues to the fantasy storyline. We even managed to solve it with a little grace from the operator who let us go a few minutes over our hour limit. Not knowing what would lie ahead the next year in 2020, I’m so thankful for this Christmas memory of travel and family fun!
My best Christmas was a bit different – it was the year my dad quit drinking. After a horrible night of blood (he fell and cut his head – 18 stitches) and screaming (mom, at him), under the tree the next morning, he promised us he’d taken his last drink. We didn’t believe him – we’d heard it many times before. But good to his word, he didn’t, from then until he passed away, fifteen years later. Best. Gift. Ever.
One of the enduring memories that stands out for me of Christmas–every year–was how we had to orchestrate everything on Christmas morning so we could get it all on film! My dad loved to take pictures and developed a lot of his own pictures when he had time. BUT…he loved technology, too, and when those Super 8 movie cameras came out, he must have been first in line to get one. Every Christmas, he’d hook up the light bar and get the camera rolling. We’d all stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed, anxious to see what Santa had left for us (by that time, I was the only one left in our house that believed in Santa, since my sisters were older). Mom would invariably be calling, “WAIT! I have to put on some lipstick! Let me do something with my hair!” I would be chomping at the bit to start ripping and tearing my presents open, and of course, my older sisters were heaving sighs of frustration at the whole affair. Dad would yell, “COME ON, EL WANDA!” She’d yell back, “JUST A MINUTE! I’M COMING!” It’s so funny now–I can see what a comedy that would have been to an outsider–and it was so predictable. Every. Single. Year.
My favorite Christmas was when I was about eight years old. My dad had been in an explosion at work around September and received 3rd degree burns on his face and hands. My mom spent many days and nights sitting with him and we didn’t know if he’d make it. On Christmas Eve my mom was back at the hospital and my oldest sister who was married stayed with me and my younger sister. As I went to bed that night, nothing seemed right. I didn’t know how we’d make it if my dad died. And I didn’t know if there would any gifts the next morning. Mom barely paid us any attention and worry sat in her eyes. When me and my sister woke up on Christmas Day, there were gifts and I knew we hadn’t been overlooked. Then my mom came and told us that our daddy was going to live and that was the best present of all. He was released from the hospital three months later. This memory has stuck with me and I’m always amazed by the power of God’s love. Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you find your own miracle.
After 45 years of marriage, four daughters, and now ten grandchildren, my treasure chest of precious Christmas memories is overflowing. But there is one that stands out.
We always lay out a table of snacks to munch on during gift-opening. Several years ago, I used our Christmas dinner centerpiece to showcase the snacks on the dining room table. With four slender red candles tucked amongst faux evergreen in a lead-crystal base, the flickering candlelight effect was lovely. We retreated into the living room to open gifts.
About an hour in, I heard a tiny POP. With all the conversation, no one even noticed, but I KNEW. I flew off the couch, leapt over a pile of presents, careened around the chair, raced into the dining room, and sure enough, one of the slender candles had tipped over into the evergreens and caught fire.
I kept running to the kitchen for my sleek, white fire extinguisher, but alas, my thumb wasn’t quite strong enough to push the button. Now that my family had run in, too, I thrust the fire extinguisher into my able-bodied son-in-law’s hand and grabbed a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda out of the cupboard. By then, the fire extinguisher was spraying like a trooper, I added a large swath of the Arm & Hammer for good measure, and within moments, the fire was out.
But every plate of those savory snacks was ruined. So was my lead-crystal base and the rest of the centerpiece, and we had to have the dining room table top re-done.
It could have been much worse, of course. Thank goodness that POP! saved the day, and I’m convinced the Christ Child helped me hear it when no one else did.
When I was five years old, my parents moved up the hill on our farm into the new house they’d spent a year building. It was my mom’s dream home with plenty of room for all of us and for guests, too. That year started a tradition that lasted for more than twenty years of my parents hosting Christmas for thirty to fifty people, depending on which side of the family was coming.
One Christmas in particular stands out so well in my mind. About ten feet out the back door of the house was a big hill we could sled down and at the bottom was a pond where we liked to ice skate. I’d gotten a brand-new bright orange plastic toboggan that morning and was ready to test it out. Right after lunch, once the gifts had been opened and the mess cleared away, most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins poured outside to join in the fun. My dad and brother ran snowmobiles as a “taxi” service, carrying sledders from the bottom of the hill back up to the top. Some chose to skate and others stood outside and watched.
We were out there for hours, laughing and having such a great time. The sledding hill seemed to get slicker with each run and finally Mom decided everyone had been out in the cold long enough and drew us in with the promise of hot chocolate and wealth of desserts. Two of my cousins (who were grown and married with their own kids), decided to take one more run down the hill. They grabbed my old toboggan, jumped on it together, and down the hill they sailed in a great impression of Clark Griswold. They hit a big bump, the toboggan broke in two, and off the went in different directions. One landed in the ditch and the other crashed with a face full of snow. I was so glad they hadn’t been on my new toboggan!
I’m so grateful for all the wonderful childhood memories I have of special holidays at home with my parents and extended family.
Oh, how I love Christmas! One of my most memorable Christmas Eve’s occurred when I was a third grader. I’m the oldest of four girls. Daddy had just bought a brand spankin’ new Chevy.
We could hardly wait until Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. I recall waking up to not only a huge snowstorm where drifts had covered Daddy’s new car, but nothing from Santa Claus under the tree. How horrible!
While Mama fixed us hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, Daddy explained everything to us. The snow was so heavy that Santa couldn’t get in our door because of the snow, so he put all of our presents in the trunk of the car.
Well, after breakfast, Daddy dug out while Mama kept us preoccupied by doing a jigsaw puzzle. Sure enough Santa had left our gifts, just like Daddy said. I’m still confused because if Santa and his elves make all of the gifts in his workshop, how in the heck did they end up in Sears and Roebuck boxes. But you know, it was a wonderful white Christmas and I’ll never forget it.
Merry Christmas to all!