Christmas is all about memories

Published 11:07am Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The best part of Christmas isn’t gifts or decorations or a traditional holiday meal, at least in my opinion. For me the most special things about Christmas are the time we spend with our family members and recalling the memories of Christmases past.

Like everyone else, I can recall a kaleidoscope of Christmas memories beginning when I was an excited child and continuing through the present.

Way back in the day when I was a small child, Christmas wasn’t anywhere near as commercial as it is today. But I was always excited about it.

We would have a cedar tree which I helped decorate. My favorite part was covering it with shiny silver icicles. And I remember just how hot those big, old-fashioned colored bulbs were on the light strands.

Christmas Eve would find us at my MaMa and PaPa’s house in Butler County (my mother’s parents). There, too, would be the requisite cedar tree.

My PaPa would always have a sackful of nuts like walnuts and Brazil nuts. He would sit in his ladderback chair beside the fire and wield a hammer to crack them on the hearth.

Oranges were kneaded thoroughly then holes cut to drink the juice from them. For some reason there would also usually be a coconut which someone would drill a hole in so the “milk” could be poured out and drunk.

Whatever toys Santa brought to me would be under or near the tree (not wrapped) on Christmas morning. Then there was the torture of waiting for the adults to finish doing whatever they felt necessary before any wrapped gifts were opened.

I think the big meal at noon was the highlight for the grown folks.

When I grew up and got married, Larry’s family had different traditions than mine which worked out OK. They did most of their celebrating on Christmas Eve while my family did everything on Christmas Day.

As many members as possible of Larry’s very large immediate family would gather at his mom and dad’s house. Nothing could begin until everyone who was expected arrived.

The first order of the evening was the Christmas meal. Everyone had to be finished and the table cleared, dishes done, etc. before going on to the next part of the program – opening gifts.

Pretty much everyone received just one gift.

On Thanksgiving everybody drew names – there was an adult drawing and a children’s drawing. Even if someone couldn’t make it there on Christmas Eve they made sure their gift(s) got there in time for the exchange.

The only exceptions to the name-drawing thing was that everyone brought gifts for Larry’s parents and Larry’s mom always had a little something for each small child.

By the time the actual go-ahead was given by Larry’s dad for gifts to be passed out, the children’s excitement had reached a fever pitch. Imagine several dozen people – many of them children – ripping into gifts and wrapping paper flying everywhere. There you have it.

After the present-opening frenzy subsided most of the males in attendance – at least those about 10 and older – adjourned to a bridge a little distance down the road for the annual “bottle rocket war.”

I’ve never been sure who all made up the opposing team – I think most either lived nearby or had lived in the area at some point. The annual war was discontinued after a rocket came too close to blinding someone one Christmas Eve – it’s just surprising there weren’t injuries every year.

My space has run out before my reminiscences. Merry Christmas to you all and make some memories of your own this year.

Until next week … and bless your hearts.


Peggy Blackburn is managing editor of The Wetumpka Her­ald and Elmore County Weekend. She can be reached at 334-567-7811. Her email address is

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