We all have Christmas memories.
Christmas time is special for children and for grownups, too, when we’re able to let go of our adult obsessions and experience the magic of the season. The innocence of childhood allows us to see things through eyes of wonderment. Constant surprise is our companion.
As a youngster one of my first recollections of tinsel, lights and presents was in Florida. I'm an Air Force “brat” and Dad was stationed at Homestead AFB near Miami. I vaguely remember a combination of sun, warm weather and a Christmas tree.
I’ve got a picture of me next to my younger brother, Doug from a Christmas past. We’re both decked out in cowboy garb. Kind of ironic as I don’t remember being a big country and western fan and as an adult I spent many years working in rock radio formats. But it all came full circle. Eventually I was employed at a country music station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And I developed a fondness for good country and western songs.
When I was very young I could never understand why my parents didn’t want to get up on Christmas morning as early as I and my siblings did.
Sometimes my brother, sister and I would all be in one bedroom and we’d be wide awake in eager anticipation of what Santa had brought. My mom and dad thought 5 AM was way too early to begin opening presents and despite our protestations they would tell us to try and sleep some more, or at least give the consideration of a little more time before arising.
I guess it didn’t occur to me they might have been up most of the night assembling train sets, bicycles and doll houses. Usually our whining would result in Mother bringing in our Christmas stockings and that would preoccupy us for a little while as we discovered the little puzzles and small toys in those homemade stockings.
Buried down in the toe of the stocking there were a few more surprises, like a bright penny, pencil, an orange and a toothbrush snuggled inside. Mom was never one to miss an opportunity to pass on tips of nutrition, oral hygiene and an appreciation of small joys.
Over the years as we grew up and our family spread around the country there were times when we’d be apart over the Holidays. But also times when we’d be able to travel "home". I understand now what my parents meant when they told us what they really wanted for Christmas was for us all to be together.
My family has an incredible number of birthdays in December and all close to Christmas.
I was supposed to be born on Christmas Day, but I think my parents were both relieved when my birth happened on December 15th. Along with my birthday there is my older sister, born on Christmas Eve, my dad on Christmas Day and my mom the day after. Seriously!
With all those birthdays right at the same time we typically would celebrate Mom and Dad’s birthdays with a dinner, cake and presents on Christmas evening.
As one interested in family history it was a pleasant surprise to learn that my Great Grandfather Fred Gilbert, a famous trapshooter in the early 1900s, was born on December 18.
My son is also part of the parade of birthdays at Christmas time. He was born on a snowy December 21st in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1993. One of my favorite pictures that year was my five year old daughter holding her newborn baby brother on her lap in front of the Christmas tree. She said it was the best present that year.