Monday, November 28, 2011


I like to start each Christmas season with this note.  I hope that you ENJOY it!

This is another photograph, taken by Anne Schlechter, in the home of designer Langham which was shown in November 2008 issue of Veranda Magazine. Much is better in this home!

I would love to share with you something that I wrote as I remember past Christmases. I will share another later as I remember my own childhood.

The last few Christmases have been a little different for us, as Angela is in college and her older brother Joey is married to a beautiful woman, my beautiful daughter-in-law. The memories that I have of their childhood, especially Christmas, are infinitely more important now.

As I reflect on the past Christmases with my children, I have so many memories that remind me of how lucky I am to have two beautiful and talented children and a loving family. Each Christmas, an entire chapter of traditions is created for my children and our family. I believe that fond memories and valuable traditions are priceless. As my children are adults now, I hope that they will add their own traditions and hopefully remember and exercise those they experienced as children.

The most moving part of Christmas for me is the candle-light service on Christmas Eve. It is touching and tranquil to see so many candles flickering in the dark as they luminate the faces of each worshiper. The choir, accompanied by the hand bells, sings Christmas music. It has been a family tradition for my family and me for many years.

After we return from church on Christmas Eve, we sip eggnog, coffee, and eat hors d'oeuvres, and later head out to look at Christmas lights. We then come home and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The pictures of me reading to Joey and Angela, and the pictures of the both of them with Santa, are irreplaceable.

I can look back on recollections of their precious little faces and their sparkling eyes as they waited to see what the “Jolly Saint Nick” had placed under the Christmas tree. They shook with excitement and I was forced to basically contain them until the grand moment had arrived. At the perfect time, I allowed them to run into the room -- lit up by the tiny white lights on the tree, to happily open their presents. They always argued that their presents were the best. The stockings that I had sewn for them as babies were always the last to receive their attention.

I can remember when Joey got his train set, his first shotgun and rifle, his many video games, and of course the many bicycles. I do remember he lost his first tooth, and had to have a baby tooth partial, because he wiped out on his favorite gift -- a Hot Wheel. I always kept his gifts a secret, or I thought I had, until Christmas.

I know that his guns were his favorite gifts, but my most touching memory was when he first saw his train set. I had it built onto a table, and it had streetlights, headlights, trees, little stores and such. I turned the lights out and let him go see it. When I turned it on, he started shaking because he was so excited. It was like a wonderland.

Now -- wiping out on his new bicycles and hunting with his guns were other memories I cherish. He always remembered that it was Jesus’ birthday, and reminded us of that. As with all boys (and men), he was much less interested in the decorations that I had spent years collecting and putting up. He had the Christmas thing down pat!

Angela, on the other hand, loved the decorations from the beginning, and always helped decorate the tree and put out the other Christmas decorations. She was more excited about the new tree, I believe, than Santa’s arrival -- well maybe not. We would drink apple cider and sing Christmas carols. It took the best part of the day, and we enjoyed every minute of it. She is most certainly a southern belle.

The most excited I saw Angela get over presents was an orange that I had put in her stocking. I AM NOT KIDDING! Her next favorite was her kitchen, especially the Easy Bake oven. She loved her dolls though, and she scooped them up, and became their mother for the day. She loved Hot Wheels and bicycles, and of course jewelry, but was not that fond of video games. She would take off on her bicycle with her brother, and I have precious videos of that.

After opening all presents, we dressed and hurried to my parents' for the breakfast of all breakfasts. Ham tarts, sweet rolls, eggs, grits, bacon and eggs graced the buffet, but before that fabulous meal, Granddaddy had to hand out presents with a "HO HO HO." He really was a true Santa Claus, and he loved every minute of it. All the while, my mother was watching from the kitchen, as she prepared the groundwork for my daddy’s gourmet meal. So many times she was in the background -- at the same time providing so many memories while often going unnoticed. That is what parents do, and if they do it well, wonderful memories are created. Both of my parents will be in heaven together this Christmas.  I will miss them, but I know that it must be wonderful to celebrate Jesus' birthday with him!

The birth of Jesus Christ is the true meaning of Christmas. He has changed the lives of many, and his presence is important in the hearts of my family. “Where is the one who had been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2).

Traditions are such an important part of life, and they provide memories that rarely leave us. The twinkle in the eyes of children and grownups alike are kind to the heart, and remind us of just how fortunate we truly are. I hope that you will start new traditions this year, and remember how lucky you are to be in a country where freedom rings and Jesus is Lord.

Merry Christmas everyone.
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Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed creating memories of tradition and rituals with my children too...but I also carried them beyond the holidays to other important events in our lives...and "nonevents" as well...
it's important for families to celebrate together and find joy in every day activities..
sounds like you have some very fond memories and are continuing to make new ones..

Angela Duke said...

Beautiful post! Thanks for making me cry!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Teresa
Lovely lovely post filled with your beautiful memories of family and tradition.. I love that Angela liked that orange!! The joy and innocence of children.. just as it should be!!

I hope this year brings you much more happiness to file away in your book of memories.. ciao ciao xxx Julie

parenting articles said...

nice post.:)

i would really like to own a huge christmas tree!

parenting articles

Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

Teresa, Lovely post. I am at the same stage you are at. Children are getting married and our holidays are now very different. For Thanksgiving all of my children went to their others family homes. We went with friends. I now have to focus on the meaning of the holiday and not on family. Other wise it makes it difficult not to be with them.

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