Some of my fondest memories surrounding the Christmas Holiday is centered around the Christmas Tree! From the moments we began to make plans as a family to set up the tree, to the defining moments that we spent as a family around that tree, to the way the tree stood majestically over all of the presents on Christmas Morning and even to the day that the tree came down signaling the end of the Christmas Season, the tree was the focal point of the Christmas Decorations in my home while I was growing up.
Oh, how I remember the excitement of putting up the Christmas Tree. For most of my growing up years we had an artificial tree. It was a very nice tree and it stood 7.5 feet high before we put the top on it. It was usually my dad and I that put the tree together and got it set up, but it was a true family affair when it came time to decorate the tree.
I remember many years my siblings and I putting the lights on the tree and putting the garland on the tree and while that was fun and holds many great memories, the real fun began when we started adding the ornaments. Every single ornament that went on the Christmas Tree was a little memory all to itself. I loved to listen as the stories behind the ornaments were told and even added a few stories of my own, as I got older. Our tree probably would not have won any design awards, but it sure meant a lot to me.
As I said, each ornament had its own story and that remains that way for me even today. While my brother and sisters all have their own trees to put up now and my mom and dad now celebrate their Christmases in Heaven, I still love to decorate the Christmas Tree every year! The ornaments still all tell the stories of Christmases Past. There is a plastic star that you insert a bulb in that was the very first ornament that I ever bought. I was at most five years old and it costed no more than 50 cents. There is another ornament of a reindeer and I can still recall the day when I begged my mom to buy it for me at Hills Department Store. I was probably about seven years old! There is a collection of about 7 or 8 Hallmark Ornaments that I purchased over the years for my mom and dad.
For several years I worked in retail and I received numerous ornaments from co-workers and vendors that I still love! I have ornaments that came from special places that I have visited, ornaments that I purchased as part of a fundraiser for different organizations and, my very favorite ornaments of all, the ones that were given to me as a gift from a family member or a friend. The latest ornament added to my tree falls into that category as a dear friend gave me a wonderful ornament last year to add to my collection of memories and decorations.
When I was a kid, as we finished the tree, the star was placed on top and we took some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. And then, the tree remained the focal point of the decorations in the house! Oh, we decorated the rest of the house and outside of the house as well, but the tree was the centerpiece and the other decorations revolved around it. The gifts were placed around the tree on Christmas Eve and, of course, we were all present and accounted for Christmas Morning when it came time to unwrap the gifts!
Alas, all things do come to an end and the time comes to take down the tree. Even in those moments, we would reminisce about the Christmas that just passed and the beautiful Christmas Spirit that we should embody all year long.
We all celebrate Christmas in different ways. Most of us likely have precious memories and I have learned that the older I get, the more precious those memories become. However, ultimately, we would have nothing to celebrate if not for the real reason we celebrate. Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, but He did not stay in that manger. He became a man and as a man, He fulfilled the purpose of His Birth by dying on a Cross for our sins.
Enjoy your Christmas and I truly hope and pray you make a lot of new memories with family and friends. However, please don’t forget to include Christ in those memories and plans. Not as a baby in a manger but as your Risen Savior who is your best friend.
This particular Christmas my family and all my cousins were staying overnight at my grandparents house. My Nanner made us all beds all over her bedroom floor.
I remember waking up and running downstairs and we could hardly see the floor. There were presents everywhere for everyone! I remember getting the Chutes and Ladders game I really wanted.
We spent the whole day eating all of my family’s famous recipes and playing non stop with my cousins and all of our new toys. I also remember the movie “Jesus” and “Jesus of Nazareth” being my favorite movies as a child. We always read the Christmas story, watched our movies, ate so much delicious food and just enjoyed being with each other.
Also, we would drive to the nursing home and visit my Grandma Great. We would always sing “When the Battles Over We Shall Wear A Crown”. She is now celebrating in Heaven.
The trimming of the Christmas tree was always a special time at our house. Dad put the lights on the tree(those big bulbs). We also had a few of the bubbly lights that looked like candles and produced bubbles when they got warm. Dad also put the garland on the tree. Then the kids were allowed to carefully place the ornaments on the branches. When all of the ornaments were on, we were allowed to apply the tinsel(icicles). One piece of tinsel was put on each tiny branch. We worked from the bottom up to make sure every little branch was covered. A beautiful and neatly decorated tree was the result. Of course Dad had put the angel on the top of the tree.
Next year perhaps you’ll learn about my own children trimming the family tree. Hold on tight!
Final Harvest is truly a family. We love spending time together anytime. Christmas is always fun. We usually share a dinner together, open presents, and watch Christmas movies until wee hours in the morning. Last year was no exception.
Pam, Lacy and I LOVE snow! We always have. However, there is one “harvester” in particular who hates snow. You got it, Mr. Scott!
After watching all the movies we could on Hallmark, we decided to bundle up and take a walk. The snow was coming down in buckets. That is when we like to go outside the best. But, not Scott…O no! We had to bribe him with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies before we could get him out the door.
So, we put on layers of warm clothing, and ventured out into the winter wonderland. Rolo also came along. He loves to play in the snow. Walking down the middle of the street at 2am with hot cocoa in our hands, we just enjoyed the beauty of the moment. It doesn’t take a lot to make us smile. Just spending time making memories with each other is enough for us.
Hallmark movies and television shows have glamorized Christmas tree hunting, but every family has their special memories and traditions.
Since we live a residential area in a suburb of Rochester, there is no way that we can take a saw and walk into the woods to find our tree. We could travel by car to a tree farm, but when my children were little we had the magic of Christmas happen right in our neighborhood.
Each fall a small lot within walking distance of our home would start the set up to become our magical “Christmas tree forest,” as the kids and I called it. When Kristina and JP were very young we would bundle them up to prepare for the trip. JP would be in the stroller and Kristina in the wagon and we’d walk to the Christmas tree forest. Along the way we had Christmas carols playing on our little cassette tape player and we sang along.
Once we arrived, we were greeted by a large mechanical Santa and rows and rows of trees. Lights were strung around our forest and Santa was handing out candy canes. There we searched until we found “our” tree. Once we paid the gentleman, we strapped the tree to the wagon and the walk home began.
This tradition continued for several years. Every year about Thanksgiving time, as the kids and I waited at the corner for the school bus, our excitement began to mount. We could see trailers of trees being unloaded in our soon to be forest.
The Christmas tree business has since ceased at that corner, but we have begun a new tradition. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, black Friday has become our “green Friday.” JP and I (and Kristina when she’s not working) head to a local farm market. There we look at the decorations for sale, the poinsettias, have a hot chocolate or coffee, take photos for our Christmas card, and search for our tree.
When we get home, we set the tree in the stand and we begin to decorate the house. Once the tree is warmed up we put the lights on (an often frustrating job…”which bulb is out?! Why isn’t this section lit?!”) and we begin to decorate. The decorations aren’t fancy, but they are precious because they hold memories of family, friends and past Christmases. Our tree has some of my parent’s ornaments and 39 years of memories our family has made. There are pictures of JP and Kristina, and decorations that they made in school. There is also an ornament that was made by a beloved neighbor, who has since passed away. Our tree is topped by an angel from my parent’s tree. My dad purchased it at Zack’s, the hardware/general store that was within walking distance of our home (this where many of our Christmas toys came from). So many memories fill our tree.
Although the tree is the focal point in our home, the focal point of the season and more importantly the focal point of our lives is Jesus Christ and the gift of forgiveness and new life that He has given us.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the World was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1: 1-14)
MY FIRST CHRISTMAS — by: The Rolo Man
I was born September 23, 2014. I was only 2 pounds of absolute adorableness. The day after Thanksgiving my Aunt Cinty and Cousin Even went to the pet store to get some pet rats. Yick!!! They saw me, and those rats never had a chance. I had just gotten to the store that day. I had to say bye bye to my birth mommie and go on a long drive. I was so sleepy, after all, I was just a baby. I was really scared too.
Then, Evan saw me, picked me up and held me for a long time. Aunt Cinty did so too. They wanted to take me home but that store put a huge price on my head. They had to leave me there. They couldn’t have doggies where they lived. Aunt Cinty told me later that both her and Evan couldn’t get me out of their minds, I was just so small and sweet and lonely. Aunt Cinty even cried. Well, Aunt Cinty said “Evan, do you think that we should go back and buy the puppy for Pam?” Evan got sooooo excited and said of course.
They picked me up and snuggled me tight, I thought that I was in heaven. I got to a big red brick house and went upstairs and there she was, the mommie of my dreams!!!! She cried really hard and got me all wet. Then I found out her other little puppy had gone sleepy time forever just a month earlier and she missed him so much. I met my new brothers Weenie, Jersey, and Tomo. I met two sisters too. Maggie and Bubbles. This was the BEST Christmas that I could have ever had, I will never forget it!! I got my Mommie for Christmas.
After our lunch shift at Red Lobster, we made the purchase. Lacy and Brandon had no idea. By the time we had closed the deal, it was late. We call the kids and said, “Get out of bed, bundle up with hats, mittens, scarves and blankets. We are on our way home. Watch for us.” They were all excited. This wasn’t the first time we got the kids up to do something crazy on a school night.
We pulled up in a candy apple red convertible with the top down. The snow was falling. Big fat flakes. Lacy and Brandon couldn’t get in the backseat quick enough. We drove all over Rochester. When we stopped at red lights, people were cheering us on and giving us thumbs up. They thought it was great!
It’s amazing how a car ride in the snow made such wonderful memories. Memories that will last a life time.
As a child, Christmas was always a special time. I remember just before Christmas the nuns and teachers in our religion classes would hand out plastic nativity scenes to all of us. What a special gift it was!
At home we never had a nativity scene, so this small token meant a lot to me. When I was working, I wanted our family to have a nice nativity scene. I went to Sibley’s and got a nice stable with golden figurines. I wanted to surprise my parents, so just before we left for Midnight Mass I set up the nativity scene under our tree so it would be found there when we returned. I was so happy to give this special gift to my parents! Of course when they found it, they loved it!
Since my parent’s passing, it is now a part of my family’s Christmas tradition. That treasure brings memories of our family Christmases with my parents and the happy times that we spent together.
More importantly that nativity scene reminds me of that special baby who came to earth, born to earthly parents. He was sent to accomplish God’s plan. Through His life and ministry, that baby grew and taught each of us how to live. He faced persecution, ridicule and an untimely death. It was a death that He suffered to fulfill His Father’s plan of salvation for each of us. Because of the cross we have been covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven if we believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That is God’s gift given freely to us. We just need to open our hands and hearts and say yes to accept that gift. It is a personal choice that each of us needs to make. This Christmas season your gift to God is your “yes” to follow His Son. Make “room in your inn” and welcome Jesus into your heart. Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.
The year before I had given my heart to Jesus at the age of four. Mom and I committed to make a Birthday cake for Him every year. If you are familiar with the title cut of our Christmas CD, you will understand why it was so important that I give Him something for His Birthday.
This year was no different. I knew that the most important gift during this season was Christ Himself, coming as our Savior. After all, I was five now had been born again for a whole year and surely, I could stay even more focused.
But the struggle was on. I had fallen in love with “Baby Dear”. She was the sweetest baby doll in the world!!! I held her in the store. She was so soft and life like. That was ALL I wanted for Christmas. The funny thing was… I really never played with dolls, but she was different.
Still trying to stay focused, I waited for Christmas morning. It was finally here. I eagerly opened all of my presents (loving every one of them) but no “Baby Dear”?
At our home at Christmas, all four of us always picked what we would call our “big present”. We were pretty sure that we would get that one gift even if that is all we received and that was just fine with us. But, not this year. I was heartbroken! No “Baby Dear”.
I tried to hold it together but finally couldn’t hold back the tears. Dad and mom attempted to console my little heart without letting on their big secret.
Every year we went to my Grandma’s for Christmas dinner and every year my Aunt Orma would buy us a gift. My little head never even considered “Baby Dear” coming by way of Grandma’s house. After all, Dad and mom ALWAYS got the “big present”.
Still feeling sad and guilty for feeling that way; remember I was supposed to stay focused, I opened my gift. There she was, my “Baby Dear”. Prettier that I had remembered. I still remember thanking God for her. He gave me my heart’s desire though I had to wait.
Isn’t it interesting that many times we need to wait upon God for our heart’s desires, and many times the answer comes in very unexpected ways.
Merry Christmas Everyone!!