The holiday season is often a time of reflection for some, with hearts and minds returning to memories of Christmases past. One of my favorite Christmas memories is from the year I was ten.
Hospitalized with a non-malignant mass on my thyroid, I was one sad, little girl knowing my parents and eight siblings would celebrate the day without me. Christmas was always a loud, crazy day for my family, full of music and food, and lots of laughter, and I was going to miss it.
But when my doctor, Pedro Sevidall, arrived for his rounds on Christmas Eve, he came bearing gifts. I could go home for Christmas…from 8 AM to 5 PM. The size of the mass in my throat made speaking, swallowing and eating all major feats, but I didn’t care, I was going home for the day.
It was a great day. I’d already been in the hospital nearly two weeks at that point, so just being back home was comforting…and exhausting! I remember falling asleep several times. When my parents took me back that evening, mom said I was asleep before she could get me dressed for bed. I don’t remember that. But, I do remember waking up later when Dr. Sevidall came in for his rounds. I’d gotten a guitar for Christmas and brought it back to the hospital with me. He picked it up and started playing… and he was GOOD!
I don’t remember how long Dr. Sevidall played my guitar, but he stayed until I fell asleep again. Such a nice man.
And a great memory.
Some of my friends have shared memories and traditions from past holidays with me, and with their permission, I’m sharing them here.
Christmas is important to Italians and Catholics. As I am both, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we have several traditions that I love, some of which I can’t partake in while living so far from home, and others that (despite the distance) we can still be a part of. The ladies in my family used to shop together and bake together, and those moments of togetherness can’t be duplicated over the distance. Still, the recipes remain, and I make the same foods here for my family of four that I did in Pennsylvania with the large, extended family. I think the food helps bridge the gap. My in-laws always bake a birthday cake for Jesus and sing to him before dessert. In my family, we gather around the manger and sing to him first thing in the morning, even before presents. When we don’t make it home for the holiday, the four of us keep Christ in “Christmas” and keep our family close in our hearts by participating in those traditions. We sing “Happy Birthday” in the morning and make him a birthday cake. These are traditions that can be embraced by many or few, can be passed down for generations to come, and will always be among my fondest memories of the holiday.
Staci Troilo, Writer/Editor
Author of The Medici Protectorate series
Most of my earliest Christmas memories centre around three things: dogs, books, and chocolate. Funnily enough, not much has changed.
I remember getting up early on Christmas morning, rushing downstairs and yelling ‘He’s been’ to my parents before scattering the floor with wrapping paper.
My Corgi watched on, panting, and with that bemused grin only dogs can do. I’m sure he was thinking ‘if I made that much mess, there’d be trouble’.
While Mum checked on the turkey that had been cooking overnight and Dad made breakfast, I’d hunt out my favourite gifts. Then I’d plonk myself on the settee, with my dog on one side, a Cadbury’s selection box on the other (yes, I’d sneak in a few chocolate buttons before breakfast – well, it was Christmas after all!) and my nose firmly planted in the book (first memories are of the Twinkle annual and it was always a hardback in those days)
While my taste in reading material changed, my love for Corgis and chocolate didn’t – I still have both today … and a Kindle full of books.
Writing a post on Christmas memories isn’t the easiest thing. Not because I don’t have some to share, but because I have a crap memory on a good day. A lot of my memories are the same. The gifts and things aren’t what stand out, but instead the time with family. Having family around to for good times, laughs, and good food. That’s what makes this holiday really special.
In trying to figure out what to share, one did come to me. My first Christmas with my husband. We got married in March of 2002 and I had our first son exactly nine months later in Dec. 2002. That Christmas was special because it was my first as a married woman, my husband and I was celebrating the birth of our first son just two weeks prior. He’s from AZ, so his parents and brother flew in to spend it with us. We only had a two-bedroom townhouse at the time, but we made it work. Lack of space, and being slightly crowded is worth the family time. My mother-in-law is that “idyllic” stereotypical grandmother type so it made me happy she could sit and snuggle with her grandson and spoil her newly acquired granddaughter (I came into the relationship with a daughter). I remember my mother-in-law being so happy to go down the Barbie aisle since she had two boys.
The husband and I are coming up on 16 years of marriage. We’ve had a lot of Christmases together since then. We’ve gone out to AZ to have time with the rest of his family, and they’ve come out to GA other years. I’m from GA so my family is all here, and we usually get together and spend time at someone’s house (mostly mine) to have fun and enjoy each other. That’s what makes the holidays special. This year will make another memory. My family just suffered a loss after my aunt lost her battle with cancer. We are coming together to support each other and celebrate in a way that my aunt would have wanted.
So, there you have it. I hope you and your family have a wonderful and joyous holiday season.
Author of Not Broken (The Happily Ever After)
I’m the youngest of ten children. The sister closest in age to me is still ten years older than me. So, by the time I was a teen, most of my siblings had moved out the house and started their own families. But, we always spent Christmas together. My greatest holiday memory isn’t of presents or food. It’s the laughter I saw on everyone’s face as we sat around the table, laughing and talking loudly. Memories of material things fade over time. Memories of special moments with those you love last forever.
Author of Cinderella & the Wolf Prince
Isn’t it funny how much life changes when you become parents? Every single little selfish indulgent we hold dear, suddenly does a 180 and life is no longer about getting unnecessary greedy goodies for yourself… and it’s amazing. I now get to be the magic maker, the bringer of joy, the giver of memories. My husband and I get to mold our children’s Christmas recollection into the kind of fun every kid dreams of (to a respectable point, of course!) So, I’m taking my favorite memory back to a mere two years ago. My son was three and my daughter was a newborn. It was the first year that my son was tall enough in his car seat, and old enough to really absorb the Aww and Magic in the Christmas lights. The small gesture of driving around and looking at lit up and decorated homes that I once blew off as a mere common thing, for the first time transformed into a memory that I’ll cling to for the rest of my life. The way my toddler’s eyes widened, and his entire face lit up, glowing from every fiber of his being will forever be seared in mind. Every year since, including this one, is still so exciting looking at Christmas lights at night, but that very year is one that stands out above the rest. It was a pivotal point in the holidays for me. A time that I’ll never forget.
Didi Oviatt, Columnist/Writer
Author of Search for Maylee
My favorite Christmas memory has to be when my father–not a dog lover–was so moved by the Christmas spirit that he came to our family room with a puppy in his arms. Misty was my off-and-on best friend and snuggle companion. I was with her for her final breaths.
Mark Goodson, Writer/Blogger
Back when I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia, I loved when Christmastime arrived. It meant my dad and I would partake in one of our favourite holiday pastimes: visiting different parts of the city and checking out the Christmas lights. Every neighborhood had its own special character: the brick Colonial townhouses in historic Old City and Society Hill rarely had multicolored flashing lights lining the roofs and windows–usually only white lights or flame-free candles in the windows; the Italian-Portuguese enclaves in South Philly went all-out with the brightest lights you could find and nativity scenes taking center stage; in our neighbourhood in West Philly, it was always go bold or go home with nearly every inch of houses covered in lights. My mom always kept our decorations more lowkey and understated. She hated when there were too many lights on a house. My favourite place to visit was Chestnut Hill in the northwestern section of the city. The trees were strung with white lights the houses all had big wreathes on the front doors and in the windows, porches were lined with lights, so they stood out in the winter darkness. And sometimes you had a glimpse of beautifully decorated Christmas trees through the windows and the scene was like something out of a movie. I used to imagine living in one of those big historic homes and inviting friends and relatives for Christmas dinner there. And after my dad and I would take these excursions around the city, we’d go to a diner for hot chocolate or eggnog milkshakes and a slice of pie. Maybe that was my favourite part, actually. Because it was nice to have my dad to myself.
Kimberly Golden Malmgren writing as Kim Golden
Author of The Maybe… series
Two Christmas memories remain with me. The first memory happened when I was seven years old. We had just moved into a tiny house and my stepfather had lost his job. My mother told the three of us, she would get us something for Christmas after the New Year. We didn’t even have a tree. On Christmas Eve, two women came to our house with toys. I learned later they were my father’s sisters. One of my mother’s sisters had told them, I would not have anything for Christmas, so they bought toys. The second memory was Christmas Eve 1990. My son served as an acolyte at the 5 pm service, so I did not schedule him to serve the midnight service. We were lining up to process in for the midnight service when he rushed in and got into his vestments. He had taken the bus over to the church. He said it was not Christmas Eve if we were not serving together. My fifteen-year-old came to be with me when he could have stayed home and watched television. That special moment I will never forget. Gifts are given in so many ways.
Ida Louise Johnson writing as Ivy Jade
Many thanks to my friends for taking the time to share their precious memories. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.
And I hope you’re enjoying this Christmas Day, perhaps even looking back on your own favorite holiday memories.
And making new ones.