I thrive on going down memory lane. One of my favorite things to do. With Christmas around the corner, I decided to ask my daughters about their favorite Christmas memories in their growing up years. And not surprisingly, they all overlapped with memories. Please indulge me—I’d like to share a few!
Our tradition of drawing names for Secret Angels on Christmas Eve is a special memory for Hannah. As I recall, the six of us drew names, keeping them a secret, and throughout the day, we would do special favors for one another. Setting out a toothbrush, making someone’s bed, folding some clothes, writing a note, putting a piece of candy on someone’s plate were great fun when we did these things secretly for one another. As our daughters grew older, they got more creative and started making little gifts for the family member they had drawn. Hannah shared with me that she still has some of her Secret Angel gifts in her home today.
Hannah also shared that she enjoyed our Christmas letter and photos every year. Really, Hannah? I had no idea that would be a favorite memory! Take a look at our 1989 Christmas card. Notice the retro sofa and wall decorating. And the matching sweatshirts, umm, well, please know they were cute back in the day.
Watching “White Christmas” together as a family stands out as a favorite memory for Liz. Ahh, Dad and I loved that too and we still watch it every year. But it sure is quiet with just the two of us. I’m no longer hopping up and down for more popcorn.
Tavia remembers our advent activity calendars. We had three, and we had to come up with a rotating schedule for who did which calendar on what day, lest there be arguments among the sisters. (Does that happen in anyone else’s family?) We started in 1987 for one of the advent calendars. A little teddy bear visited different places in his teddy bear home for 24 days on a large wall hanging. That same Merry Beary Christmas advent hanging now sells for at least $80, just the fabric, on Ebay! It’s fun to walk into Liz’s home to see how she displays this at Christmas time for her own children.
Opening a present on Christmas Eve, wassail on Christmas morning, constructing gingerbread houses, baking Spritz cookies for three generations with a cookie press, photo moments with Santa and much more, are now memories we savor.
One of my own memories is the 1993 Christmas when my husband was without a job. Money was tight. Instead of fretting, I decided we needed to be positive and focus on what we could do, not what we couldn’t. And we birthed giving gifts from our hearts that Christmas. I used this time as a teachable moment for our four daughters. We didn’t have the finances to go store shopping. So we made things. We got creative. We took out our musical instruments and had a family recital. We practiced Christmas carols and went out caroling. We could give gifts from our hearts.
But our idea to do this was not original. No, it wasn’t. My parents and in-laws learned to give gifts from the heart during the Great Depression. Simple and homemade gifts repeated again during World War II.
Cloth dolls and teddy bears created from socks delighted little children. Grandpas whittled toys for boys from wood. Lip smacking could be heard a mile away when popcorn balls, straight out of the kitchen, were made when sugar rations pinched holiday baking.
With Covid and a very challenging 2020, I hope we can all focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do, and give gifts from the heart. Bob Hope said it best. “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.”
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