I asked four women from my church community for a Christmas memory.
Here is what they shared.
Have a blessed Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, we children each put a clean plate at our place at the kitchen table and then went to bed. Early on Christmas morning, mom would waken us. We all got dressed and gathered at the kitchen door. Dad was waiting there with the coal-oil lamp. We entered the kitchen together and went to the table. On our plate was an orange, candy and peanuts and a small unwrapped present.
We understood that the present was from Nate Claus. When I got older, mom told me that Nate Claus was just a story; I was a bit sad that he wasn't the source of my gift.
We played with our presents while dad and my older brother did the farm chores. When they came back in, we had breakfast and got ready for the sleigh ride to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Because both the extended families lived quite a distance from our home, Christmas visits in either direction were rare. We celebrated at home by ourselves.
On Christmas Eve, we children each put out a stocking for Santa to fill. The next morning, our stockings contained nuts, an apple and one Mandarin orange as well as our gifts. For many years I received a new pencil, a new eraser and a box of eight new crayons. It was a special gift because I loved to color. My September school crayons were already worn down with the paper pulled away. Whether or not I received a coloring book didn’t matter as much as having crayons with sharp points again.
Dad oversaw the eating of the oranges. We had to lay out and count each segment before we could eat them. By eating our orange slowly and carefully, Dad taught us to really enjoy the taste of those special Christmas oranges.
In my childhood home, the focus of Christmas was the presents from Santa Claus and being happy as a family. Granny didn't come every year but when she did, we were especially happy to have her with us.
My mother owned a shiny green housecoat that she wore only at Christmas. She did this for many years, and so it became a tradition to have mom in her green housecoat as we opened our gifts on Christmas morning.
When our son was 4 or 5 years old, he was very excited that we were celebrating Jesus’ birthday. As his mom, I was really pleased that the message got through. I was an adult before I understood that Christmas is a Christian celebration of Christ’s coming, so I was grateful to God that my child was developing that awareness in his life.
In our family, we always wrapped our Christmas gifts to each other in nice Christmasy paper and we opened those gifts on Christmas Eve.
One year, the 12-year old me was more than a little puzzled when there was no wrapped gift from my parents but only a simple white envelope. I was upset until I opened the envelope and found a printed clue. When I figured that out, I found another clue which led me to the living room sofa. There, tucked behind the cushions was my gift: a .22 shotgun. It had been too long and cumbersome to wrap, so mom made a game of hunting for it instead. Perhaps that was in keeping with the hunting that I’d learn from my dad. Both the game and the gift are a special memory for me.