Basking in the memories of Christmas past

I don’t know the origin of the custom of hanging up stockings on Christmas Eve hoping when Santa arrived, as surely he would, he would fill those stockings with desired goodies. I do remember carrying out the tradition when we were kids living on our own small farm.

I’ve probably said this before, but when I was old enough to understand how our home was heated but still of the age it was fun to “believe” in Santa Claus, it was a great concern to me that Santa would come down our chimney and not be able to get out of the furnace. I didn’t want the poor ole fellow hurt!

Anyway, on Christmas morning, the stockings which hung on the wall near the tree had magically been filled with good stuff. In the very toe was an orange. Oh, what a treat that was! We didn’t get oranges any other time. And, now at this ripe old age, I have to wonder where my parents got them for such a delightful Christmas treat.

At the time, I never even wondered, but did the community grocery store which also carried the other necessities of life get a box of oranges in just for the Christmas season? Knowing how they tried so hard to meet community needs, that is probably the answer.

Christmas Day was spent with our grandparents. And, strangely, I don’t remember if it was just our family or if Dad’s sister and family were also there. There was always an abundance of good, home cooked food. (No cheating by picking up ready-to-bake casseroles and such at Gordon Food Service!)

After my parents took over the management of the Fulton County Home at Ottokee the year I had my 12th birthday on Christmas Day, those family traditions made a serious change.

Employees were given the day off to be with their families. Our own family, in turn, took full responsibility for preparing and serving meals as well as the clean-up in both kitchens – one serving the residents in their dining rooms and the other serving employees and live-in family.

After the noon meal, family, including grandparents, gathered in the main entry hall which was nicely decorated and where the tree stood proudly on the stairway landing for our Christmas gift exchange and family time.

This tradition continued throughout my parents’ tenure at the home – 24 years – and, wherever life found me at the time, I made the trip home! For isn’t it important to be with family on those momentous occasions?

One regret is that later, when I lived in Kentucky with two other women, both older than I, they convinced me I should not undertake that trip. It was not as easy then as now, but it was doable. Nonetheless, I listened to them and cheated myself and my family out of our own Christmas tradition.

Yes, those are fond memories (except for the last one) to be treasured until I join with my family once again in heaven. And I will! I still have a letter my mother wrote to me right after Dad made his decision to take Jesus into his heart. No, I have no doubts about my family.

Will you be there to hang up your stocking on Christmas Eve and carry out other family/friend traditions? Have you made that decision? I’ll be looking for you.

May each of you rest in the knowledge that Jesus saves and salvation is finer than the orange in the toe of your Christmas stocking.