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Christmas Memories...
Past, Present and Future

Article by Tom Gilbert – © December, 2007
(written December 23, 2007 - update on December 19, 2020)

Little Cowboys Tom and Doug at Christmas*Author note - December, 2020 - This has been quite a year for everyone. With the global pandemic of the Covid-19 virus we find ourselves celebrating Christmas and the holidays in a different way. The big family gatherings, parties, hugs and laughter are all subdued by the necessity or keeping safe from a very real and dangerous virus. But vaccines are arriving and maybe that is the present we need. That and the love we have for each other. Keep the joy of the Christmas season alive! *

We all have Christmas memories. 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’ve spent many years working in rock radio formats. But it has all come full circle. I am currently employed at a country music station in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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.

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.  Often there would also be a bright penny, a 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. And there were times when we’d be able to get together. I understand now what my parents meant when they told us all 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 the 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.  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.

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 fourteen years ago. 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.

Kristen with her baby brother, Eric, at his first Christmas

Christmas memories can run the gamut of emotions. Some are joyful celebrations, others lonely affairs. Some are more hectic with traveling and large gatherings. And some are just plain silly. But regardless of the circumstances or surroundings the gift of the Christmas Spirit can always be found. If we treasure those memories and record them to share with others on the Christmases yet to come we will discover that the Christmas past, present and future all exist together. I find it remarkable that the very first Christmas was a mother, father and a baby that brought tidings of great joy down through the centuries.

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