One of those is the fact that we always got new board games and jigsaw puzzles for the family and would spend many happy hours around the table playing together.
More importantly, though, was the time spent with my mom. In their early years, we would join other family members at Grandma’s home for Christmas dinner. As she aged, our traditions changed. She had been widowed for many years and we didn’t like the thought of her waking up alone on Christmas morning.
On the afternoon of December 24th, we would drive the 20 minutes to her house and pick her up. She was perfectly capable of driving herself, but this was an extra touch of care that we wanted to provide. Our evening held a familiar comfort for all of us. We would have an early dinner and then attend a candle light Christmas Eve service at our local church. With the strains of Silent Night still in our hearts, we headed out for our next adventure.
Armed with the local newspaper’s list of the best light displays, we drove around the city enjoying the elaborate displays in people’s yards. The best ones always had the manger scene. Then it was home for hot chocolate and cookies.
My son would give up his room for Grandma and sleep on the floor of his sister’s room. Together they would wake up early and sneak out with flashlight in hand, to look through their Christmas stockings. They vividly recall the time they heard Grandma’s voice behind them and thought they were going to get into trouble. Instead, she asked for the flashlight and went through the contents of her Christmas stocking! This was a secret the three of them shared for many years.
My mother has been spending Christmas with Jesus for fifteen years now. We still talk about the fun we had with her sleepovers and her childlike enthusiasm. The gift we gave her was the freedom to relax and have fun as she had no other responsibilities. The gift she gave us is the countless precious memories that we recall.
Southern Gospel singer Guy Penrod sings a song with the following line: “I miss you most at Christmas, you were like a little child.” It took many years before I could listen to the song without tears. I thought I could do it now, but I am shedding a few tears just thinking about it.
The true blessings of Christmas are not the physical gifts we receive. My children have no memories of special gifts. Our fondest family memories are the love, laughter and time spent together.
My husband and I have been invited to our daughter’s house for a sleepover on Christmas Eve. I think I’ll find a board game and jigsaw puzzle to take along with us.