Fifty Years of Christmas

            Fifty years, fifty Christmas trees, fifty Christmas mornings on Dogwood Road, fittingly located at Lake Joy; and I wonder how the time flew by so quickly, but joy is a good word to describe it all. Happiness is circumstantial, but joy lasts because it comes from knowing and serving the Babe of Bethlehem who was sent, lived, died, and rose again to give all of us life, peace, and joy.                          
 I was a 25 year old order editor at Avondale Mills Sample Department with long, dark hair and a tall, dark, and handsome husband. We had one son who was in kindergarten at First Methodist and already in love with baseball, football, puppies, and books. He was so much fun, and a couple years later, son number two added to that joy. He liked cars and trucks (especially firetrucks and garbage trucks), and he also had a natural affinity for dogs and reading. He was a master at remembering and quoting nursery rhymes!                                                                       
I’ve tried hard today to remember the details of that first Christmas. If I had kept faithful notes in my journal, I could look back and see, but I was then more into boys and the things that keep mamas busy. I do have vague memories of a roaring fire in the fireplace, a cedar tree decorated with paper and popcorn chains, and a few cheap lights. A long pink-quilted housecoat keeps popping into my mind. Everything was all wrapped in the love and magic of Christmas.                                                                                                                                               

           The tree still sits in the same old place, and there are lots of memories of the trees of Christmas past: fat trees, skinny trees, and trees that usually had to be trimmed on the front porch because they were too tall for the room. Several years after Bob passed, I tried to continue having a real tree, but the boys were away at school, and I found that selecting/cutting a tree and lugging it into the house was not as easy as bossing the operation. Once inside the house, making that tree stand straight and tall was another story.                                   
           The ornaments that I have put on the tree today tell the story of the years that have passed so quickly. There are lots of homemade ornaments made by my mother when she lived with us after Daddy passed away. Some are hand-painted wooden ones that Mom painted with the boys. Little elves, made of sewing spools and yarn, are nestled close to the puffy, quilt-type homemade ornaments sent to us by an elderly aunt in Birmingham. One of our favorite ornaments is a wicked looking little elf holding a hatchet and riding on a cardboard sled purchased by my Daddy long ago probably at Woolworth’s or Elmore’s. He was “Made in China” back in the day when everything wasn’t. Ornaments from daycare and school students bring back wonderful memories of days gone by and special thoughts of the children who made them.                                                                                                                                                             
          The Nativity scenes are scattered here and there on table tops. The one Robert bought me with his first paycheck at Palace Drug when he worked there one Christmas is very special. It is glued clumsily together after it took a fall, but I refuse to part with the childlike figures. Kim Dykes was working there at Palace that year, too; and she gave me a puffy little Santa like the one she had, that I treasure. He sits sedately in the little rocking chair by the toy box until my one year old granddaughter tosses him carelessly into the corner. The toy box was made by my carpenter father-in-law, Joe Clifton, and it still serves our four little ones very well even though it is 55 years old.                                                                                                                                    
         The Christmas card holder is still on the kitchen door, covering the pieces of tape that show how tall the boys were once so long ago. I plan to get my cards in the mail soon to out of town friends and relatives, and a few old teaching friends that I never see. Maggie, I am going to try to get mine in the mail BEFORE I get yours this year.                                                                 
         Well, you get the idea. Christmas is a special time of the year whether you have lots of experience or it is your first one with a new mate, in a new house, or with a new child. One thing is not new! Life is made up of lots of little blessings made possible by the Christ of Christmas. I hope you know Him, really know Him (and not just know about Him), so that you can make memories of the blessings He has given you.