Christmas Presents and Christmas Presence

 I see the profusion of toys, colorful plastic abundance, under the Christmas tree. It’s a whole different era from when we were children.

And even more so from when our parents were young.

The big thing in my Christmas was my family and I driving in the night through a snowstorm, from Tennessee through Kentucky to Indiana. There would be the distant farmhouse with a string of Christmas lights, those hen’s egg sized bulbs in all colors.

There would be the icy hills to climb that my dad would have to stop and put on the chains to surmount.

Then, finally, the cheery red cheeked warmth of my aunt Deedee‘s house, with Christmas tree, Holly, and candles. There was the joy of getting together with all my cousins. We would go from house to house and visit and play and “talk story.”

All totaled there were at least 20 kids who were my first cousins.

Then Christmas day came. There were a few things that were “boughten” gifts.

Then there were toys and other items made from wood by my dad or one of my uncles.

Occasionally there would be skates, or a baseball bat, or even a bicycle from “Sears and Sawbucks”. But, I guess what I remember the most were the oranges, the Brazil nuts, the walnuts, and the dates. The sweet, sticky gooey dates.

The 50s were more about each other and about joy, and optimism, and less about material things.

And there was music.

We sang Christmas songs, folk songs, Broadway musicals, even college songs. And we ate. Boy did we eat!

There was turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan and pumpkin pie —oh my! My grandma, and my mom and her sisters and sisters-in-law were magicians in the kitchen. We stuffed at one house, and went on to stuff again at the next.

Then, I guess what brought the meaning of Christmas to my young heart and mind was experiencing the Christmas programs at the churches.

Part of my family was catholic and part was protestant. But we went to midnight mass at one, then Christmas morning and Sunday services at others.

There were candles, hushed excited faces, and more music, with choirs, organs, and hymns. We were transported by the wonder, the color, the light and the magic of Christmas with family and friends, and neighbors.

I pray that we see that kind of Christmas once again, when we can be together without fear.

Right now presence means more to me than presents. 

One thought on “Christmas Presents and Christmas Presence

  1. Hey Glenn2, sounds just like my Christmas in Detroit! Mass, oranges, apples and nuts and 21 cousins on just that side of the family and 19 on the other.
    Your description took me back to the past….good memories driving at night in the snow….and don’t forget stopping at a diner for eats and coffee and oh yes, listening to the radio stories.

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