What are the fondest memories you have as a child during Christmas?
As I child, I try to reflect on my fondest memories of the Christmas Season. I think back of the beautiful manger that sat underneath our Christmas tree and how Mary, Joseph and the shepherds surrounded baby Jesus with love. I often removed the statues from the manger so I can play with them and always embracing baby Jesus with hugs and kisses.
My attraction with the manger has always been a part of my life, as I have this beautiful Celtic porcelain manger in my house that remains up all year round. Every once in a while a I dust and clean it, I remove the statues, give them a kiss and put them back in place. It’s my reminder that baby Jesus was born as a miracle for all of us. And each day, a baby is born, that is a real miracle in today’s world. Jesus is truly the reason for the season.
A fragrant Christmas tree, freshly cut, peppered with colorful lights and old glass ornaments, each with a story retold as someone tucked it into the pine needles. A dark living room with the fragrances of steam billowing over a soup pot and of cookies cooling on the kitchen counter where everyone else in the house seems to have congregated. Christmas music playing on the wooden radio sitting on the bookshelf. My small feet wagging wildly in their trusty slippers with floppy ears. The family dog leaning against my side. I gaze upward at the tree—and beyond the picture window into white blustering snow. A strangely overwhelming awareness floods my mind: I am safe. Nothing can harm me here. Heaven must be Christmas.
For several years in a row at Christmastime, my mother and I would take the Metra train in to downtown Chicago to visit my Dad at work. He worked at Marshall Field and Company. We would view the animated elves, and Christmas scenes in the windows on State Street. That was always a thrill. My Dad would arrange a tour of the Frango candy kitchens for me. The candy makers always made me feel special and I was able to sample some fresh chocolate. Then we would go to the Walnut Room and eat lunch. We would gaze at the beautiful tree, with bright lights and spectacular ornaments, and we enjoyed our lunch. I always remember that as a happy time, free from any concerns or worries.
After lunch I would say goodbye to my Dad. He had to go back to work. My Mom and I would then go shopping in Marshall Fields. She would always let me buy 1 thing. We shopped for a toy, or a Lego set, or a model airplane or car that caught my eye. It was great.
I felt special because my Mom and Dad spent this time with me. On the train, my Mom and I would look out the windows as the train moved along and talked the whole way into the city. When my Dad came home from work, I would talk with him and follow him up to his room while he changed out of his business suit. I would talk the whole time about our day, and the toy I got, how big the tree was in the Walnut Room, and how delicious was the fresh Frango chocolate and how nice the candy makers were. And everything…..
I have two favorite Child Christmas memories. I was an adult at each time, but I believe God has a way of giving us things we missed as a child; He see to it that we receive these missed cherished memories either through our children or friends.
The first was when my son was 4 years old. Christmas was often referred to as Jesus’ Birthday. So, on Christmas, my son and I left early for Mass so we could visit baby Jesus in the crib before it got crowded. My son sang Happy Birthday and seemed to speed up the last verse. Then asked “Now Mama” grinning like a little elf. “Yes,” I said and handed him our cupcake with a candle on it. My son, Joseph usually moved like a tornado at that time but that day he walked every so carefully up to the manger and set our birthday cake next to baby Jesus and the donkey. At the end of Father’s homily, he invited those in the pews to come up after Mass and visit baby Jesus at the manger but don’t touch his birthday cake! Joseph said nothing just lit up and grinned.
My other fond memory was when my son was in his teens. We attended Midnight mass. After communion was over, the lights went out and with one candle to start each of us light the person’s candle, next to us. Joseph light mine. As we all sat in the glowing darkness the choir began to sing Silent Night. Everyone eventually was singing and tears rolled down my check. My son noticed and took my hand and asked, “You okay Mama’? (I was so much more than just okay!)
What are your memories of Christmas, or a Christmas blessing you’d like to share with survivors and their families?
Share with us this year in our Comments Section below, and we will publish in next year’s Christmas issue.