The Communications and Events team in the JWHC is excited for the holiday season! For this post, we share our warm fuzzies about Christmas. Enjoy the memories and have a great break!
I don’t have a specific favorite Christmas memory, but I do have two favorite parts of Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, Christmas has begun to feel more normal, as if it were any other day of the year, so I love the moments that revive its magic.
One is the sight of my family’s Christmas tree set up in my empty living room after dark, its lights shimmering. Seeing it reminds me of the mornings when I was little and my brother and I would get out of bed to look at the presents under the tree before waking up my mom and dad. Those early mornings were full of excitement and anticipation, and the tree’s beauty added to the effect.
I also love the Christmas Eve service at my church. We sing Christmas carols, members of the church read the Christmas story, people perform carols with their family members, and at the end we light candles and sing a final carol by candlelight alone. I found out on Thursday that this is actually a traditional service style for Christmas — thank you Dr. Toland! — which makes the service even more special, because the history adds to the magic.
When I was little I wrote down strategies for discovering presents. My parents eventually caught on to many of them and made rules against them. The presents migrated from the basement to a locked and defended closet. The receipts started getting shredded. It was rough. Now I like surprises, so I’m not as sneaky. The surprise of Christmas morning reminds us of the surprising way our salvation arrived. Like the angels, I can’t wait to see what comes next. (1 Pet. 1:12; 1 Cor. 2:9-10; Jer .29:11)
We have a huge awesome hill in our backyard, the kind that all the kids in the neighborhood come over to use. It was “that hill.” At the bottom of the far end is a creek amidst some trees that separates our house from our neighbors. Every year my dad gets out the toboggan, so we can steer through the small opening in the trees, jump the creek, and see how far we can make it into our neighbor’s yard. One year my dad was gone and I tried to steer it myself with one of my friends. I’m bad at steering. That hurt so bad.
One of my funniest Christmas memories goes back to 1st grade when I learned that Santa wasn’t real. “Learned” is probably not as good of a word to use as “uncovered,” because I had somehow gotten it into my 1st grade mind that my parents had to be the ones who were putting things in my stocking. I don’t really know what set me on this path, but I was absolutely determined to find the answer I was looking for, which led to much sneaking around and eavesdropping as my parents discussed their Christmas plans for the year. Let me be clear, my parents were good at being Santa, and I couldn’t find anything. I had all but given up hope. Christmas had come and gone, yet I could not find the slightest bit of evidence against what I had deemed, the “Santa Conspiracy.” Several days after Christmas, my mother was talking on the phone with one of her friends, and happened to mention a few of the presents that I was told Santa brought me. Coincidentally enough, this happened just as I was walking around the corner, and, after hearing all I needed to hear, my eyes widened and I shouted, “I knew it! I knew it!” The following Christmas I regretted the discovery I’d made the previous year; ignorance can be bliss.
My favorite Christmas memory probably has to be my last Christmas in New Jersey. It was after I had finished my first semester in college. For the first year ever, my mom and I decided to attend the midnight Christmas Eve service at my church. In case you were wondering, it was the shortest sermon, no adorable children’s Christmas pageant, and most populated service on Christmas Eve. I saw many of my friends from high school and friends that were in town from far away states visiting their families. Afterwards, my mom and I came home and decided to light the family Advent wreath and open one present. While I was lighting the Advent wreath candles, I caught some of my hair on fire. No worries! The fire was quickly extinguished, and my hair was mostly all present. We sang Christmas carols and read the Christmas story followed by going to bed. Knowing that this was probably going to be the last Christmas in our little house in New Jersey, we made the most the morning by having our traditional Christmas breakfast with spiced fruit, Spanish cheese, good bread, and sparkling apple cider. We then opened presents. I received everything I had wanted this Christmas. The rest of the day, I enjoyed being in my home because I knew that I would soon not have the quiet times in my house. I would soon no longer be able to make a running jump onto my bed. The next house or apartment that my family would live in might not have a high enough ceiling for our nine foot artificial Christmas tree. My Christmas memory may not be exciting or especially hilarious, but its my favorite memory because it made me realize how grateful I am to have lived in New Jersey, having a wonderful church family, and enjoying the rest that I very much needed.