Everyone has memories of Christmas past. For each one of us the memories are precious and centered around special foods, gifts received, traditions honored and of course the people. Those memories, whatever they are, are meant to be cherished and as the years go by and people leave us for whatever reason, the memories are still sweet and dear. We make new memories all the time and that is why it is important we take special pains to be sure they are good ones and ones we want to keep. I have wonderful memories of Christmas connected with Christmas Eve worship services and the lighting of candles, the honor of preaching the Christmas story and the wonderful glory of Christmas Day when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” I remember Christmas times with lots of family and now I celebrate Christmas with new friends or establishing new traditions that honor myself as a special person in the eyes of God.
The more recent memories, however, are built on the treasured memories of my childhood when aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and my family were all still living. Out on the South Dakota prairie we gathered at the ranch under a sky that was filled with stars, diamonds in a sable colored sky. The yard light shown out as a “light house” to light our way down the lane to the house which was awash in light, where we were welcomed and loved.
When I was in junior high, I had to write a poem for an English class. I wanted to write about Christmas so with a little help from Mom, I managed to put this together:
Christmas Eve at Grandma’s, I never shall forget.
Though I live to be a hundred it is a time I’ll ne’er regret,
The days I spent out on the farm with grandparents and cousins, the real old-time charm.
At even-tide the relatives come with many a "Gladlige jule”! Laden with gifts to add to the pile
And more food to make us drool.
First the table grace is said, then the lutefisk, leafs and Christmas bread.
Then we all gather together once more to sing the old songs we all know and adore.
And the story is read about the Christ Child who was born in a manger bed.
At last the clock tolls twelve and all must depart. Another Christmas Eve has left memories in our hearts.
As I write these words, the dear ones pass before me reminding me of the love we felt for each other and the blessing of the real meaning of Christmas.
All the Christmas times were not so idyllic. We were all just human beings, of course. But the desire to let everyone know they were special was real.
I fear that these days social media and the continued trends in technology to separate us from those warm times of human touch and dynamic relationships have deprived us of what the Christmas Season is meant to be — a time of relaxation, a time to just be together, and a time to know where our roots are and where we belong. Of course we can’t go back, but we can use those memories and those times to help us build new memories where love and caring are just as real today as they were back then. Each memory becomes a stepping stone for what is to come. God bless you and Merry Christmas.