My column this week will be devoted to favorite Christmas memories. I have asked several individuals to share with me a favorite Christmas memory, and here they are:
Joan Decker remembers a Christmas when she and her husband, Bill, and their young grandson, Jacob, spent that day with some friends of theirs who had just moved to Kentucky. Ray and Colleen Youngster and their daughter, Jolene, had moved temporarily into a very small trailer that originally housed a beauty shop. But the smallness of their temporary home didnít matter to the Youngster family who wanted to have friends to come for Christmas Day. Joan remembers how Colleen had to use most every electrical outlet available in the trailer to get the meal prepared that day, and this included one in the bathroom. The table they sat down to for the meal was so small the pretty Christmas table cloth Colleen used had to be folded in fourths. But that particular holiday stands out in Joanís mind as a favorite because of the warmth of friendship and being in the company of good friends in that tiny trailer in Kentucky that day, and itís a memory she will always cherish.
Johnny Hunter told me the memories he has of going to his Grandpa and Grandma Ogletreeís for Christmas dinner are some of his happiest. He said he and his grandpa and his dad would sometimes go out in a field and bird hunt in the afternoon, and he enjoyed that part of Christmas Day very much. He has one particular memory of getting up on Christmas Day when he was around 12 years-old and found that he only had two packages under the tree, one of which turned out to be socks and the other a shirt. After opening these two gifts and thinking that it wasnít much of a Christmas, his dad told him to help pick up the Christmas paper under the tree. Even though he was trying to hide his disappointment, he did as he was told, and after getting the paper all picked up, his dad told him a rug that had been placed underneath the tree needed to be straightened up.
Again, as kids who were raised during the time Johnny and myself were, he did as he was told, and when he moved the rug around, underneath it he found a shotgun he had wanted for some time. It turned out to be a very good Christmas after all. A fellow who doesnít wish for his name to be used remembers a Christmas when he got his wife an iron, and he really didnít realize until a couple of years later that the wife didnít really like his choice for a gift. He learned about it from a saleslady who worked at a ladiesí clothing store that used to be on the square, and he was quite surprised to know that irons would not likely be included on a list of a wifeís top 10 things she would like to have for Christmas.
Judy Padgett remembered a time when her husband, Hoyt, had just got out of service and was going to vocational school on the GI bill. It was a Christmas when they didnít have any extra money to shop for Christmas, but Hoyt, knowing that his wife loved cookies, went out and bought her a bag of her favorite type of cookies as his gift to her. Judy said that year was truly a very meaningful Christmas for her, and one she looks back on as one of their best holidays.
Miss Mabel Springs told me neither Christmas nor Thanksgiving holidays were really a favorite time for her, even as a young girl growing up. One of the jobs she did for her mother, who she described as a fine cook, was to get in the wood for the cook stove in the kitchen. Her mother did a lot of cooking for the holidays, and each member of the Springs family got a box filled with her homemade goodies that was to be opened on Christmas Day. Mabel said that sometimes she didnít even open her box until long after Christmas was over. She considered going out and helping her father with the many jobs he did more exciting than the holidays were.
One of Norma Rich Kerbaughís favorite Christmas memories was that one year her father bought her a cowgirl suit and a cowgirl doll. Normaís outfit included a holster and guns, and the cowgirl doll had the same. Norma also remembers how all the kids in her family went into the woods to gather mistletoe, holly, and moss for decorations in their home, and they also gathered nuts which they hulled and cracked for their mother to use in her Christmas recipes. Their mother had a special chocolate cake recipe she used at Christmas time that had crushed up sticks of King Leo peppermint candy in the icing. Their tree always had lots of homemade decorations made out of all kinds of things. With 20 children in the family, there is no doubt Christmas was a very special time at the Rich home.
I suppose my favorite part of all the Christmas seasons I had growing up were the gifts from my sister, Sue. The little treasures she would give my mother, brothers, and myself were never anything very expensive, but I can remember not being able to wait to see what was in the package from her each year. She always took lots of time selecting what her gifts to us would be, and no matter what amount of money she was able to spend, her gift was always something I was thrilled to have. She had, and still has, a talent for gift wrapping, with each present very painstakingly and neatly done, and I thought her gifts were always the prettiest ones under our tree.
It seems that the memories we all hold closest and count as the dearest to us donít have a thing to do with lots of expensive presents. And those of us who are grandparents spend lots of holidays not being able to walk through a room where gifts are unwrapped because of the toys that will be added to the already existing rooms crammed full from previous holidays and birthdays.
I believe there is something wrong with this picture, donít you? Maybe itís time we changed the traditions we have today, and go back to a simpler time that would take away this ďbah-hum-bugĒ attitude thatís so easy to develop this time of year.
Itís the simple things that make life meaningful, things like getting a bag of your favorite cookies for Christmas, a gesture so simple, yet one that left a lasting and wonderful impression, even for us who are sharing it now.