Are you busily preparing for Christmas? Think about it.
We have just experienced the most confusing, sad, depressing and heart-breaking year that we will always remember. Our nation has been in pandemic before, but not quite like this year when so many, many people have been affected by one disease. We have worn masks. We have kept our distance in stores. We have washed our hands until they are sore. We have used gallons of hand sanitizers. Most people have been very careful and thoughtful in keeping cautious. But with all that protection there have been many deaths and very ill people. Nearly every family has been touched in some way by this pandemic.
Christmastime is here and we can still celebrate and remember the Christ Child. We can make presents. We can make candy. We can sing carols. We can read about Christmas. We can all still have a joyous time. It will just take some planning and creativity.
I celebrate Christmas all year. But we especially enjoy the preparation and many activities before the 25th. Let’s not get so stressed and forget how fun the trip is. Don’t wait too long to shop, although some say they get their best bargains on Christmas Eve. I usually start right after Christmas each year, planning for the next year. Some people are easy to shop for, others not so easy. They take a little more thought and preparation.
As always, I have made many of our Christmas gifts. I truly enjoy quilting, sewing, painting and cross stitching so it is a joy all year to prepare for Christmas giving. I hope those who receive the gifts experience as much joy as I do making them. There is love in every stitch.
My daughter, who knows what everyone wants or needs, and their sizes and preferences, will again spend as much time as necessary to help me shop and shop until we drop. It is always fun to be a part of the music, crowds and seeing friends while shopping. That is part of the fun of the season.
Then all I need to do is the final wrap and checking off my list. We joyously start the countdown to the birth of the Christ Child. Our table discussions will center on our favorite Christmas present, custom or story. In almost every case, the stories are of Christmas in a simpler time with few presents.
In a meeting, one year a lady told that she was about 12 years old and all she received was a pair of houseshoes and how grateful and appreciative she was. Another told of putting their shoes out for Santa to fill. She had to wear high-topped utility shoes like her brother did. Santa got hers and her brother’s shoes mixed up. He got a doll and she got a wagon. Consequently she got to play with both. It became a life-long joke between them. I tell the story every year about Margaret, my flour sack doll that Mother made for me. Margaret always comes to sit under my Christmas tree.
Many told of their meager Christmas trees and how they improvised with branches from other trees. Decorations were scraps of anything around the house including cotton batting from old quilts. Those trees sparkled with the brightness of any fancy tree we could purchase today with much less fuss and much more love.
Those years during the Great Depression and the war years were hard times. Presents were not the focus of Christmas. We celebrated by making candy and having a special meal with family. We made almost all of our gifts and were very secretive about our projects. It was a special time of sharing and thinking of others. We kept Christ in Christmas and celebrated His birthday with love.
We all discussed that no one had money back in those days, but none of us considered ourselves poor or hard up or deprived. We had a house to live in, food to eat and warmth. It might not have always been to our liking, but in many ways we were richer than we are today. It is all in our thinking. We didn’t expect so much back then so we were never disappointed. We were all in the same situation and money was not discussed or whined about. Everyone stayed busy and concentrated on self-survival and thinking of others. We found joy in simple pleasures.
When we make lists and check them twice to see that no one gets more than another, I feel that we are missing the true meaning of Christmas. We are so afraid we will slight someone or our gift will not equal theirs that we are missing what brings real joy.
Keeping Christ in Christmas is most important as we worship during the holidays. We sing carols and enjoy presenting and listening to our cantata. The afterglow is delightful with everyone sharing cookies, candies, etc. The children inspire us with their innocence and sincerity. Most of these joys will not take place this year because of the coronavirus, but we will celebrate some way.
One of my favorite things of Christmas is making candy and cookies and bread and all the old recipes I made when I was a kid. It was the most fun thing we did and we used pounds and pounds of sugar and cocoa. We made lots of things with apples too. Our house always smelled of cinnamon and spices and everything nice. Oh, what memories.
It warms my heart that so many people support the Salvation Army and many, many other organizations during this wonderful season. It seems all churches have special funds to give to those less fortunate. The Bible tells us, “It is better to give than receive.” And it makes our hearts glad when we are thinking more of giving than just what we will get under the tree.
Just before Christmas we may have only enough time to melt some chocolate in the microwave and stir in some roasted nuts and drop them by spoonful on parchment paper, and have a last minute gift. Or, try these simple, non-chocolate goodies:
Peanut Butter Treats
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
2 cups peanut butter
4 cups crispy rice cereal
Mix sugar and syrup in a saucepan and bring to a full, rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Add the cereal, mixing well. Drop by teaspoons on wax paper. Place in refrigerator for a few minutes to set.
May you have a glorious Christmas season with love and memories to last a life time.