Old memories and traditions are an integral part of the Christmas season. They often help us to get a full measure of enjoyment out of the Great Feast Day. When I was a boy, most traveling was done in automobiles, but I do remember a few teams of high-stepping horses that could really make their sleigh bells jingle as they pulled bobsleds or cutters along the snowy country roads. For many of us, the merry sound of sleigh bells, whether actually heard or dredged up from memory, is about all that is needed to establish a Christmas mood:
Sleigh bells sing on country lanes,
Christmas carols, candy canes,
Sparkling tinsel, giant tree,
Gifts galore for you and me!
Age may turn my hair to gray,
Steal my zest and zeal away.
Time may rob me of my gold.
Christmas memories I'll still hold.
Christmas is a time for youngsters. And for families. When our children were small we did our main celebrating on Christmas Eve. We began with a large evening meal. Santa Claus was not a major contributor at our house, but by the time the dishes were finished he had usually left a bag of goodies and small gifts on our front porch. The rest of the evening was spent exchanging gifts, playing with new toys, admiring new clothes and singing a few carols.
We still try to continue that tradition, but each year it becomes a bit more difficult for our group to get together for the Great Season. With family members now scattered from the East Coast to the West and from the Twin Cities to Dallas, and with winter travel conditions being what they are here in the Midwest the odds are against our all being together again this year. And the grandchildren have a way of growing up and having classes and getting jobs that make it all the more difficult to plan. But once again, we'll do the best we can. We'll gather wherever we can get the most of the group together and then keep the telephone lines buzzing as we compare notes and share greetings on Christmas Eve.
Turkey roasting in the oven,
Coffee brewing in the pot,
And the clan will start to gather
Any minute, like as not.
One more snowy Midwest Christmas –
Outside cold chills to the bone –
First we'll line up the grandchildren,
Look them over...how they've grown!
We'll eat supper, do the dishes,
Then all gather 'round the tree;
Exchange gifts and sing some carols.
See what Santa left for me.
Thank you Chad and Zac and Justin--
Jared, Riley, Gabe and Jake--
Thanks, Michelle, Mikey and Noah,
What a precious group you make!
Life provides us joys a-plenty,
But none greater, I believe,
Than being a proud grandparent
On this Blessed Christmas Eve!