This time of year always has me feeling nostalgic. I just love the warm feelings stirred in my heart during Christmas-time.
The first Christmas storage box I open contains my mom’s Byer’s Choice carolers. These handmade characters of old are about a foot high and represent neighbors caroling through town. As soon as they are set up, it’s Christmas-time for me! They conjure up wonderful memories of my youth.
On Christmas Eve, almost everyone of all ages in our neighborhood bundled up in warm coats and gathered at the end of the street around a 40-foot-tall lighted and decorated Christmas tree. We sang carol after carol, until we finally sang Here Comes Santa Claus. We would sing it over and over again, louder and louder until Santa could hear us singing; and then he would suddenly appear, a large bag of toys slung over his back. Every single child in that neighborhood sat on Santa’s lap and received an individualized gift of some kind from him. While the children were greeting Santa, at least one parent from each house scurried back home, because once Santa had to fly off to share gifts with the rest of the children in the world, we circulated in small groups throughout the neighborhood, singing carols at each home. We received Christmas cookies and hot chocolate from the parents along the route. As an adult, I marvel at the care, cost, and coordination it must have taken to pull that off every single year! What a fabulous memory that created!
Once back home after caroling, most of our gifts were under the decorated tree, and eggnog, hot chocolate, fudge and more Christmas treats were shared. Mom would then accompany us on piano as we sang some of her favorite Christmas songs. Later, we were finally ushered off to bed to try to get some sleep. Then, magically, sometime in the dead of night, we’d hear sleigh bells downstairs near the fireplace and our stockings and a hearty, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!” shouted out before Santa flew away on his trip around the world.
Oh, my. What wonderful memories Christmas brings for me! I believed in Santa long after my classmates started doubting, because…well, look at what I’d experienced: Santa himself, the sleigh bells, the midnight greeting. But, one particular Christmas, I came home in tears, crestfallen, finally succumbing to my doubting friend’s words. My dad sat me down and essentially shared that I could always carry the spirit of Santa in my heart, regardless of what my friends said. I could believe in the unselfish love and caring for others that was exhibited during Christmas-time.
Believing in something that was bigger than myself might have been my precursor for my later belief in an immaculate conception, a holy birth in Bethlehem, and accepting Jesus Christ as the true reason for the season.
Billy Graham wrote, “The word believe in the Bible means more than simply agreeing in our minds that something might be true. It means ‘trust’—that we believe so strongly in God that we are willing to commit our lives to Him and live the way we know He wants us to live.” billygraham.org
Because I now trust that Christ is my savior does not diminish my childhood belief in Santa, the spirit of Christmas, and the wonderful, warm memories and love expressed while we sang carols around the tree and awaited his coming.