Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sentimental Sundays: The Spirit of Christmas

The Christmas season has always been so special to me. My parents celebrated the season enthusiastically with pure joy and warm hearts. Though they could not afford to lavish us with gifts, they surrounded us with the spirit of the season- Christmas music, decorations throughout the house, plenty of good food and tender smiles. It was our season of family, of togetherness. On Christmas day, relatives and friends usually crowded into our small home to enjoy the delicious dinner which Mom would spend days preparing. She enjoyed cooking and the holiday season brought out the best in her efforts. Everyone loved her chicken and dumplings, cornbread dressing and banana cake. How fortunate we were to indulge in Mom’s divine dishes! As the day progressed, we would make our way back to the kitchen for extra helpings. No one left our house hungry that day, for sure.

We didn’t own CD or DVD players, so when a holiday program came on television, we gathered in the living room to watch it, because that would be our only chance to see it. Our entire family sat together and watched the holiday programs. Mom usually prepared us some popcorn, Jiffy Pop, on the stovetop along with some freshly made hot cocoa- homemade with real cocoa and milk, topped with real marshmallows. We didn’t have the instant hot chocolate in packets back then. We watched dear old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy, along with others.

We didn’t receive gifts throughout the year, as many children do these days. The only days we received gifts were our birthdays and Christmas. Our parents couldn’t afford to spend much for our birthdays, yet they saved throughout the year to ensure that we had a nice Christmas. We were always thrilled when the days began getting colder and we knew Christmas was approaching. It was difficult to even sleep on Christmas eve night because the anticipation of opening gifts lingered in my mind.

The Christmas season remained my favorite even as my own children were growing up. I would begin decorating weeks ahead of time- putting up the Christmas tree, adorning the fireplace mantle with greenery, candles and colorful ribbons, stringing lights around the exterior posts of our house, placing holiday figurines upon shelves in our living room. Mom and I would plan our holiday meal and I would watch my grocery list grow longer… and longer. While Mom continued the tradition of preparing the chicken and dumplings and cornbread dressing, I usually prepared side dishes and desserts. We always expected a fairly large crowd for Christmas dinner, so we did a lot of cooking days ahead.

My husband and I didn’t purchase gifts throughout the year for our children either. Birthdays were simple and spending kept to a minimum, until Christmas. Except for a couple of years when we were financially strapped, we usually provided our children with the gifts they most desired. I absolutely loved wrapping gifts and finishing them with a glittery hand-tied bow.

I miss those days so much. I miss Mom. I miss Dad (he now lives in Texas with my brother). I miss the excitement and preparations surrounding the holidays. I miss the anticipation of watching my children open their gifts- the smiles, the laughter and the play. Yet, I still have the wonderful memories- the photos, the videos, and the heartfelt warmth that comes with the longing to be there, to do it all over again. There will be very little shopping done this year, due to financial constraints; our Christmas dinner will be meager compared to the feasts in years past; opportunities to spend time with extended family have become a thing of the past.

Despite it all, I will continue to celebrate this special time of the year, only in different ways. After all, it isn’t about ME, or anyone whom I love here in this earthly home. It’s about JESUS CHRIST, my Saviour, and HE is the reason for the season. I’m thankful that I am here, yet another Christmas, to celebrate his precious birth.

This was re-posted from my personal blog, originally written on December 03, 2009.  

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