Every year around November our thoughts wander to the Christmas season if that is a holiday that is celebrated in your family. My family loves the fall and winter holidays but Christmas has a special place in our hearts because of all of the traditions surrounding the holiday.
My family and extended families are all Christians so the celebration has many deep-rooted religious meaning and the traditions that we partake in each holiday season revolve around the meanings that are brought to the surface at this time of year.
Christmas is also a time of year when many Christians and non-christians alike become more charitable and acutely aware of those around us who is less fortunate. Many of the Christmas traditions therefore center on helping the less fortunate, the elderly and those who are hospitalized during the holiday.
Celebrating Christmas and participating in all of the holiday trappings such as the parties, dinners, services and other holiday events are what reminds us of Christmases past and what creates new memories of Christmas for us to treasure in the years to come. What traditions do you remember about your Childhood Christmases or the ones when you first married, had your kids or the first Christmas you spent away from your parents? These Christmas traditions and memories are an important part of who we are and who we become so they should be cherished and passed on to younger generations so they too can have wonderful traditional Christmas memories.
What traditional Christmas memories do these hymns bring to mind?
O Christmas Tree, The Twelve Days of Christmas, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Angels we Have Heard on High.
These hymns remind me of singing in my high school choir at Christmastime and all the concerts we would put on at school for our parents, in the local mall for shoppers and in the elementary school for the little kids to enjoy. I remember the silk robes and the silver tinsel we wore in our hair (the girls of course). I remember standing on risers and being careful not to fall off. I remember the choir director beaming this 1000-watt smile at us and mouthing the words for fear we forget.
What Christmas decorations bring back childhood memories for you?
When I was a child my parents always had these huge colorful bulbs on our live trees each Christmas. I remember laying beneath the tree each New Year’s night and wishing ever so hard that Mom would not take it down the next day because I really adored all the lights especially when all the other lights in the living room were turned off and all you could see were the many different halos of color bouncing off the walls and ceiling from the Christmas tree bulbs.
I also remember the plastic Frosty the snowman face that Mom hung on our front door right after Thanksgiving. It was tradition in our home to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We would come home from school that Friday and see Frosty hanging on the door and we KNEW it was the very best time of the year once again.
What food do you eat that no matter what time of year it is; the mere smell or sight of the food brings back traditional Christmas memories?
Sugar cookies no matter how they are decorated always bring back memories of the ones we decorated at Christmas. We would use colored frosting and sprinkles to make Christmas wreaths from sugar cookie cutouts or Santa faces, bells or reindeer. My favorite was to cut out a Christmas tree, ice it with green icing and then put colorful gumdrops for bulbs on the cookie.
My grandmother would always bake a yam and marshmallow dish for Christmas dinner and to this day whenever I serve yams I think of my grandmother and her Christmas yam dish. It might be a hot July day picnic and the yams sitting next to my hotdog would instantly trigger for me Christmas memories that would put a smile on my face.
Christmas Events can evoke lots of traditional Christmas memories:
There are many Christmas events that keep us busy during the holidays including going to Christmas parties, dinners, concerts, gift-exchanges and office celebrations. The traditional Christmas memories of events that have the most meaning for me are those that involve caroling. As children we would go to local nursing homes and sing Christmas carols as we walked the halls of the home. Sometimes we would sing carols to residents sitting in a recreation hall at tables or in chairs and we would stand in a group around a piano. I also remember walking up and down my street at night in the cold air signing traditional Christmas carols to neighbors. We would sing all the favorite carols including:
Away in the Manger
Little Town of Bethlehem
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Little Drummer Boy
Santa Claus is Comin to Town
The First Noel
The Twelve Days of Christmas
What Child is This
We would sing until our toes were frozen and our voices were hoarse. We would then troop into our side door kicking off snowy boots and come laughing into our kitchen where Mom always had a pan of hot chocolate ready to pour into our mugs and Dad had somehow slipped off to the local donut shop and had the white box sitting on the table filled with all of our favorite sugary confections.
Now it is your turn.
What traditional Christmas memories of years past do you treasure the most? Share them with your kids, neighbors and friends this holiday season. Keep the Christmas cheer alive all year long as you hum a tune, visit those in nursing homes or eat yams.