Christmas Remembered


In a writing class, people were recording childhood memories of a festive family occasion. Many writers chose Christmas.

A Jewish woman described her father keeping the rabbi talking at the door, while mother and children pushed the Christmas tree out of the living room and into the garage.

Another story came from a man who had been six years old when his parents announced that Santa was coming early on Christmas Eve with their presents.

They would all see him!

When Christmas Eve came, the boy could not contain his excitement.  Santa Claus was beginning his journey around the world at their house! How good was that?

Late afternoon, anticipation turned to anxiety when Dad said he had to go out to get fuel for the car. The boy protested. “You might miss Santa!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back in time,” his father said.

He didn’t come back.

There was a knock on the door, a loud “Ho-ho-ho!” and Father Christmas came in with a large bag of presents to place under the tree.

Mum and Grandma talked to the big man , but the boy could not say a word.  He kept looking out the window.

His father had missed the biggest evet of the year.

When Dad came back the boy was tearful. “You said you would be here!” he accused.

“You promised me!”

His father consoled him as best he could, and the boy stopped crying. He sat on his father’s knee and described details of Santa’s visit, the white beard, the red suit with the fat stomach, the parcels in the bag.

“Guess what, Dad! You’re not going to believe this. Santa has exactly the same watch as yours!”

Stories like these keep me from getting grumpy about the commercial aspects of Christmas.  Are they really as bad as we sometimes make out? Or have we just outgrown the magic?

Maybe I don’t go as far as wanting to ban Santa and Christmas trees, but I do tend to limit Jesus to a manger.

At my age, Christmas celebration is two tickets to Handel’s Messiah, midnight mass, and Christmas dinner with family.

As for the add-ons, when I feel an attack of “grinchness” coming on, I go back to memories of childhood when Christmas pudding, a stocking hung above the fireplace, a fat man in a red suit, were all somehow connected to God.

It’s the child view that Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees, every bit of tinsel, fit neatly into the manger with baby Jesus.

Maybe Jesus would say, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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