Christmas is love. It is an event, not a feeling. God sent His Son to the world so that we might know Him, who is, was, and evermore shall be. He is God in human flesh, come as a little baby in an insignificant little town prophesied years before as the place of His coming. So I make it a practice not to say, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas this year.” Like the Babe of Bethlehem whom we honor on Christmas, Christmas IS!!
Christmas IS, even when people we love are no longer here. When we love people, we remember sadly those who are no longer here on this earth, or we can remember with joy the time we had with them. I continue to put up a Christmas tree because it holds so many memories symbolic of Christ’s Love. I had to replace the lights on my tree a couple of years ago because they were popping, cracking, and even sparking. When I considered how long I have used them, I understood why. I bought the same large colored lights as close as possible in size and effect as the old ones. These are LED so they are cool and energy efficient. They look, “Wow!” just like the old ones.
Snuggled in the branches of my tree is a cheap cardboard Santa with a red suit and a cotton beard. He is riding on a sled that contains a little snow-covered tree which he cut down with a small hatchet that has long since been lost. We know he lost it after he cut down the tree, but that was back in the fifties. He has a wild-eyed look on his face which made him a favorite ornament of my son, Ray. My Daddy purchased this wicked looking little Santa in the fifties.
Nearby is the Mayberry Courthouse. It reminds me of Barney, Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, and Robert, my younger son, who watched those ever funny shows over and over with me. This ornament was a gift from him, a true Mayberry trivia expert.
The ornaments from the Cantrell family are an assortment of needlepoint personalized beauties from the old days, and I still hang Mr. C. and Mrs. C. close together. There is the grandmother ornament Mary Kelly gave me her first Christmas (I think her Mother selected it)! These ornaments remind me of Christmas Eves spent together with special performances by the Cantrell sisters. Both are teaching others now, giving back to this tired old world what they have been given.
There are so many ornaments from so many children I taught in a 38 year career. They are wooden, sparkly, and department store engraved, and I read those names and remember precious faces and fun times together. Christmas started with a baby, and the times that we spend with children make it so special year after year. My tree has grandson ornaments, and these grandsons now have babes of their own. My granddaughters bring the joy again singing sweet carols that are timeless and bringing laughter to this house by their presence. My faith in the neighborhood shines brighter with a Christmas visit from Laura and Keeton Mask and a new snowman peeps out of the branches of the tree. The snowman is perfect because I remember when Jan Owens, Janice Snyder, Donna Jones, and I dressed as snowmen for Snow Day at Pinecrest many years ago.
The quilted ornaments, the ornaments made from wooden spools that once contained thread, and the hand-painted wooden ornaments that my Mom supervised or made are all there. Mother, like her daughter, loved Christmas, especially cooking delicious Christmas candy of all kinds.
Of course there is the fruitcake of Christmas reminding me of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory and of my Mom and my aunts who made fruitcake making an art. I am thankful to get again that good Texas fruitcake from Linda and Gene Torrey, and of course the wonderful Punta Clara fruitcake via of the Robert Clifton’s. Yummy!!!
The Nativity is on the coffee table, and another one sits on the mantle by the old clock that belonged to my grandparents, Luther and Alice Riggins. It makes me happy to wind it with that old key and remember those weather-beaten hands that wound it in the long ago. I am almost positive that little ears in that country home listened to it strike 12, 1, 2, and 3 waiting for Santa and Christmas morning to finally arrive.
There is often rain instead of snow in Alabama, and sometimes there is greed instead of love so focus on the Baby. Christmas was, is, and will forever reign in the hearts of those who love Him. No matter the trials and troubles of today, always remember that glorious day when Jesus was born and then gives “whosoever” the gift of life everlasting for those who trust in Him. I remember when I received Jesus many years ago; yet it was not so long ago at that. I pray that you have received that Gift of Life available only through Him. Merry Christmas to each of you.