Christmas was always the most fun time of the year for us growing up. Whether it was hoping for a white Christmas or just not being in school, it was great!
Our family always had the same rituals. We would go to church the night before. We would try and do an earlier service and then get something to eat. Sometimes we would head down to Union Station to eat at a restaurant downtown. If we were lucky, the fudge factory would be going singing and making fudge.
We would get home and would be able to open one present the night before. My brother and I would actually be patient to see which would be the right present to open. Of course, we had scouted it out for the past 24 hours.
The next morning, my brother and I were ready to go! We were extremely patient and be quietly waiting in our rooms to hear the trigger to come downstairs. We were silent and in reflection of all that we had been blessed with. Okay, maybe that was in some crazy alternative universe. We were usually at the top of the stairs and when we heard the Christmas music play, we would race downstairs. Being almost 8 years older than my brother, I would usually lead the charge, see picture to the left. (I apologize to all regarding the Oklahoma Sooners t-shirt. I have nothing to say for that.)
Our favorite family movie was A Christmas Story. We watched it as much as possible and I still laugh to this day over those stupid dogs that chase the old man around. One year, my father did what Ralphie’s father did with the Red Rider BB Gun. Accept with me, it was a baseball bat I had been wanting. When all the presents were open, he had this smile on his face. He pointed to a closet in the hallway and I went over there and saw an oddly shaped present in the closet. To this day, it makes me smile.
The years have gone by since those days. I have moved to Phoenix and back. We have celebrated Christmas in Phoenix to keep the traditions going. The first time my wife ever came to St. Louis, we flew in Christmas night just to see my family on Christmas. The year I got married was the first year we were not around each other on Christmas. I had just gotten married and had been home a few weeks beforehand. It was an unusual feeling. The wife and I went to San Diego to celebrate the holiday and had our first Christmas dinner as a married couple: Carl’s Jr. or Hardees to the Midwesterners. Sadly, this is a tradition we have kept. The Christmas’s since then, we have had Hardees at some point. Sounds crazy and NOT healthy, but it reminds us of our first Christmas together.
This year will be unusual, especially for my parents. This is their first Christmas with my brother not able to join us. He has moved this year to Ft. Meyers, FL. We talk nearly on a daily basis and hope and pray he can enjoy the holiday. I am sure we will be sending him pictures and video of his 21 month year old nephew tearing into some presents!
It gets me to think though. They call it the most wonderful time of the year. For some people though it is very tough. Whether there may be a family member who has died or families are not together by choice or by other circumstances. It can be the most CHALLENGING time of the year for some. All I can say for encouragement is to remember those who are not with you. Celebrate that they have made a footprint in your life that you miss them this time of year. I think we would all would loved to be remembered like that one day.
My mom gave me a CD one year for Christmas. One song is pretty tough to hear without getting emotional. It reminds us of a group of people that cannot be home for Christmas; however, I think it works for all of us that cannot celebrate Christmas with all our loved ones. It is Josh Groban’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas.
May God Bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas.