Christmas Memories

I'm sure most of us have a lot of Christmas memories.  I do, largely because so much of the ghost of my my Christmas past was caught on home movies and video. In fact, one of our Christmas traditions is to sit around and watch video of Christmas gone by. We haven’t done that this year yet; no one can remember how to work the VCR! But those memories are as vivid as if I were watching the tape now--
  • Memories of Lynn holding up her first cellular phone (which was the size of a suitcase), and saying “I got a car phone” to the camera. The girls still mimic her saying that.

  • Memories of Tressa watching her little sister open a gift and then realizing that it was one of her old toys that we had gotten from the attic and were “re-gifting” (back then we called it “hand-me-downs”). Tressa would start to say, “Hey that’s my…” and then her mother jerked her out of frame.

  • Memories of Angelynn opening a Christmas card, holding up the contents for the camera and saying, “A check!” And then she threw it down behind her as she headed for a package that looked more like a toy.

  • Memories of me as the cameraman waiting until all the gifts were opened and then saying, “Hey, the camera was off; wrap them all up and let's do it all over again.”  The girls love that!

Of course, my most vivid Christmas memory is of the Christmas morning we spent in Mary Immaculate Hospital in 1981. If you want a little extra Christmas hoopla, have a baby on Christmas morning in a Catholic hospital!  We headed to the hospital just before midnight on Christmas Eve, and our Christmas baby was born at 8:20 that morning. The first thing the doctor did was to turn on the radio in the birthing room so we could listen to Christmas music. (To this day, Lynn starts doing Lamaze breathing every time she hears “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”). One of my most vivid memories of that day was Lynn hurting (back then, women were women and painkillers were for men) and holding my hand so tightly it hurt… and not letting go for about four hours. I had to visit the facilities, but I couldn’t because she was holding my hand. By the doctor came in and distracted her so that I get to the restroom, I had been doing Lamaze breathing with her trying to manage my own pain. For some reason, she never felt sorry for me. Go figure.

Christmas memories.  Christmas is indeed a special time of year. It is a time of joy and celebration, of home and family, and time off from work. That’s why “Tis the season to be jolly,” right? But not everyone is jolly this time of year. In fact, holidays can be the most depressing time of the year. We have expectations that are never really met in reality. Some don’t have family or good family memories. Some suffer through financial woes and sickness and divorce and the death of loved ones, and these always seem hurt more at this season. There can be a great difference between the way things should be and the way things really are.

While we celebrate the Christmas season, may we remember those for whom this season is very difficult. May we remember Jesus’ words that “It is more blessed to give than receive.” May we also remember what He said about banquets—don’t invite people that can repay you but rather invite those who can’t, “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” Jesus says, “Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Lk 14:14).