I Love Christmas!
There are old cliches that people use for the Christmas season about why they love it so much. Those include, but are not necessarily limited to, love, joy, peace, harmony, world peace, etc. Those aren’t the reasons I love Christmas though. Part of the reason I love Christmas reside only in my memories of being a kid. I grew up in a family that was very close, physically and emotionally. My Aunts on my Mother’s side lived very close to us. One Aunt lived literally across the field and down the dirt road and my other Aunt lived only about a mile away and they were always at our house. During the holidays, this closeness was aplified exponentially. We would gather up at our house with the wood burning stove, Mama would cook, and we would watch Christmas specials on TV while putting up the artificial Christmas Tree loaded down with icicles. The lights on the tree were colored lights and blinked in “random but repeating” patterns. I remember laying under the tree and looking up through it at the ornaments, including an oversized Washington Redskins ornament my Aunt who lived near D.C. gave me when I was very young. There was just something special about that time of year.
Our house wasn’t overly decorated. We had a tree and a few odds and ends and that was it. We definitely didn’t go overboard but it was the feeling of the season. I also remember laying in the floor and playing board games and card games like rummy. I also remember sitting on the couch one Christmas and one of my Aunts and I went through a 2 lb bag of M&Ms in one sitting…just eating and giggling. Of course Santa would make an appearance at our house and brought practical gifts like a machete, .410 double barrelled shotgun, Space 1999 ships and stuff but he also always brought me a fireworks assortment that contained REAL bottle rockets, firecrackers, snakes, sparklers, whistlers, cone fountains, roman candles, etc. I would put on a show every Christmas night for our family, before chasing people around with the roman candles and firecrackers. Thankfully, nobody ever got hurt. It was just part of the tradition.
I Love Christmas!! – The Food
Most people equate Thanksgiving to food. For me it was Christmas. Mama always made pies and cakes. There was more sweet stuff than anyone could wish or hope for. The big thing this time of year is making fun of fruit cakes, but my Mama’s fruit cake was dense and moist and just amazing. She also made German Chocolate, Coconut, Pineapple Upside Down, and other cakes. Then, there were the pies. Pumpkin, Chocolate, Lemon, Coconut, Pecan, etc. were just some of what she would whip up. Our relatives and friends would also bring desserts over. It was absolutely amazing.
The one thing that we always did that I looked forward to was cooking hogs. When I was young, we raised our own hogs over at my Dad’s best friend’s house. We would kill, clean and cook them with wood every year. We would end up cooking a couple of days before Christmas. We typically cooked 4 to 7 hogs, depending on who we were cooking for, and it was so much fun. The kids would run around playing “Cops and Robbers” and “Ain’t no boogers out tonight” while the hogs were cooking. There was one year when Daddy and Mr. LaVonne decided to cook for the entire area and make some money. We cooked in three shifts and cooked somewhere around 30 hogs that year. We only did that once though. They decided it was too much work. After I grew up and went to college, we stopped raising hogs and just bought them and stopped cooking for the entire neighborhood. I only missed one year not cooking hogs with Daddy because of work and that was the year he died of Pancreatic Cancer. I made a promise to myself that work would never again interfere with family and things that I held important and dear. Life is way too short not to do the things that we need to do with our families. So, our Christmas food consists of all those great desserts along with Barbeque (vinegar based of course), slaw, fruit salad, yams, etc. Turkey is for Thanksgiving not Christmas.
I Love Christmas! – The Decorations
As I said, we didn’t do much decorating at our house growing up. We had a tree and some odds and ends but our little artificial tree that was loaded down with blinking lights and icicles was aMAZing. Just staring up into that tree was incredible. Now, Melanie decorates everything. We have our own tradition of going camping the weekend of Thanksgiving and staying out in the swamp while the house gets an overhaul. When we get home, Melanie has turned the house into a winter wonderland of a real Christmas Tree (which we buy before we leave and put in the stand for her), snowmen, nutcrackers, lights everywhere and when we walk into the house after camping all weekend, we just stand slackjawed at everything she has accomplished while we were gone. We love going to the lights at the zoo and looking at all the houses decorated in our area and taking in some of the local Christmas concerts. This year we went to The Citadel for their Christmas Candlelight service. It was very cool seeing everything decorated and lit up.
I Love Christmas!! – The Reason for the Season
With everything I mentioned about Christmas, we can’t forget the reason for the Season. It’s a Christmas Tree, not a Holiday Tree. There are a lot of people out there who want to take Christ out of the season. They typically don’t have a problem with the concept of an abstract “God”, but there is major problem when Jesus is brought into it. The nativity scene drives some people absolutely bonkers. I don’t understand why that is. But, Jesus himself said he would be the breath of life to some and the stench of death to others. It really should be no surprise that people want to take down the Nativity. It seems we have bought into the lie that we have Freedom FROM Religion instead of Freedom OF Religion. We need to get back to our roots and take to heart what Jesus said. A lot of people want to bash Christians and that is to be expected. They had the Saviour executed for saying the things He did. I don’t know why we expect it to be smooth sailing for those of us who believe in Him and do our best to follow His teachings. We seem to want to have all of the good stuff but not have to put in the work to have it and not to have to fight for what we believe in. But, as the Grinch found out, regardless of what they try to take away as far as the Christmas Symbols we have adopted in our faith, they will never be able to stop Christmas from coming because, ….
He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!