December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!! By Vickie Stam

Christmas was my family's favourite time of the year, so it came as no surprise that in 1968 my two sisters along with my parents, would jump in the family car and drive from Hamilton to Santa's Village in Bracebridge, Ontario. At the age of four, it seemed like a long drive; almost as far as driving to the North Pole. Sitting in Santa's sleigh didn't ring high on my list of things to do when a white dog who bared no resemblance to 'Rudolph' joined in my mother's game of picture taking. The scowl on my face complained....Bah-humbug! But deep down I just wasn't sure if the white ball of fur was, 'naughty or nice.' As luck would have it, someone finally noticed and reached out their hand in an effort to extinguish my angst and keep the white dog from getting too close. 
At home, boxes protected our decorative treasures from one year to the next. As soon as the calendar began to tick its way into November my mother started hauling them out, one after the other. She blew the dust off the tops, cracked them open and fished out the tinsel, the coloured lights and long strands of shiny garland. Red, gold and green adorned the Christmas tree; the very thing that seemed to summon Santa's arrival. Good cheer filled our home. The count down to Christmas was on.  

The smell of fresh baked cookies lingered in the air long after they were pulled from the oven. The voices of Bing Crosby and Gene Autry belted out holiday tunes over and over. We never tired of Bing, 'Dreaming of a White Christmas.' I was dreaming of more than a white Christmas. I could hardly wait to see what Santa would bring me. The wait felt so long.

I loved the endless tearing of wrapping paper and the way the carpet seemed to disappear beneath its remnants. There were so many presents. I screamed with delight. "Look what Santa brought me!"   

My children grew up with much of the same traditions. Most often, Christmas Eve was spent gathering together at my parents home with my sisters and their families. We opened presents, shared a meal and laughed the entire evening. It was a time we all looked forward to. A time when cast all of our worries aside.

I never once thought about the people who were hurting, hungry or alone. I was too caught up in my own celebration to think outside the box of what was my world. And afterwards, we all hurried home at just the right time. I wanted to be sure that the kids would fall asleep long before Santa would come to deliver presents.

I recall those memories with such fondness even though Santa was the driving force behind Christmas, not the birth of Jesus. The true meaning of Christmas was something I never fully recognized back then. 

The gift of a savior! 
           "Today in the town of  David a Savior has been born to
             to you; he is Christ the Lord."

I wasn't thinking about Jesus at all. But, a lot has changed since then. I can't imagine my life without God. He showed his great love for us by sending his son to save us from our sin. We can receive this gift if we simply open our heart and accept him. 

Having done that, I still miss those Christmas Eve gatherings of long ago. My mother has passed away, my sisters no longer live in Hamilton and the children have grown up and have families of their own. All of our lives have taken a different path. 

Losing people I loved so much has somehow robbed me of my Christmas spirit. It's not difficult for me to conjure up that face from my Christmas past; the one that had 'bah-humbug' written all over it. This time it isn't fear that sparks that look; it's grief. It clings to me. 

But there comes a time when I need to let go of those past traditions and make room for new ones. Give up my sorrow. Rejoice! 

Christmas is not only about the greeting cards, the presents and the turkey dinners with all the trimmings. It is so much more! 

I have to admit, I am still learning to embrace the changes in my life. Not an easy task. These days, Christmas Eve is spent with my church family. I focus more on what Christmas is truly about....the birth of a Savior. 


Quoted from, A Christmas Carol 
By: Charles Dickens.

"--as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts and to think of people........"  

Merry Christmas Everyone! 













  1. Vickie, so many reactions to your story.
    1. The way you've woven the traditional Christmas language through your first paragraph is masterful. Well crafted. I smiled all the way through. (You might want to build on that and submit it somewhere!)

    2. The excitement you felt in a Santa-oriented Christmas with your family of origin was contagious. You described it beautifully.

    3. The contrast you feel now, as an adult, carrying the hurts and losses life has contributed, changes the tone drastically.

    4. The deeper, more profound message that comes with Jesus Christ, comes through with a subdued but very real Hope.

    A child's excitement is fleeting, yet that's always the goal in a Santa based Christmas. Great fun, but unsustainable. The Hope of Jesus is enduring. Sorrow at this time of year is appropriate as we grieve what we've lost, what could have been. May Jesus give your heart, and the heart of others who sorrow, the peace that comes only through him.

    Many blessings

  2. Ah! The changes in life. they can be saddening, especially the fading strength, and spread of loved ones often beyond easy reach.
    But your memories of are part of life's mosaic, as important as the events that inspired them.
    Like you, Ann an I have an abundant life to share with others--especially in our writing. We thanks God for that opportunity.
    May God continue to provide new avenues for you to express the joy of life past and still to come.

  3. May the Lord allow your heart to remain ever so fond of memories and past traditions as He blesses you with opportunities for new ones!

  4. I agree, Vickie, changes in life can be difficult, especially during holiday times. I remember the first Christmas two of our three children could not come home. It was a rough Christmas for me--but in it I was reminded that the pain of missing them meant there was a love, a closeness, a special bond, that others have never experienced. So, I changed my perspective and chose joy. I pray joy for you too.


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