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Much but not everything about Christmas has changed

As time passes by, many things do change, and that includes Christmas. The Christmases of today are very different from the Christmases of my childhood.

I recall how Mama was always in a merry mood as Christmas approached and used what she could find to decorate the house. When we went out to find a pine tree suitable for our Christmas tree, we also gathered lots of holly and yaupon with berries to decorate the house. These we put up on the mantel in the living room and atop the windows, draping the greenery with silver icicles.

We always had multi-colored holiday lights to put on the tree, and that was the hardest job — getting the lights just right. Then on went the ornaments, and the silver garlands were draped and then on top of everything, more of the silver icicles.

The icicles had to be put on just so, and Mama was firm about that. She would get a little perturbed with us after we put a few on very carefully, and then tiring with the chore, we would start “chunking” the rest on the tree.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well” was a concept she constantly drilled into our heads, and that meant everything — including putting icicles on the Christmas tree. She usually ended up beautifully draping most of them. It was so pretty when finished, and the smell of the pine and holly in the house was wonderful.

Christmas was a magical time as we waited for Santa to arrive, and we were always appreciative of the gift or gifts that arrived under the tree on Christmas morning.

Daddy would tell us about his experiences as a boy at Christmas when he felt lucky to get an apple or an orange in his stocking. These were rare treats to children of his day. I don’t think it was much better for Mama as her father died when she was a baby and her mother was a single mom until Mama was about 12.

Christmases today are also different from the days when our own children were growing up. As our family grew, we adopted our own Christmas traditions based loosely on those from both sides of our families as we began to do Christmas our way. We tried to provide our children with memorable Christmases, although a little different.

One difference was spending Christmas Day with either of the grandparents with big family gatherings. Our children fondly remember spending Christmas at the grandparents’ houses, alternating each year. Since both my parents were the babies of their family, both sets of my grandparents were pretty old when we were children so we didn’t experience those family gatherings at Christmas.

Now our grandchildren celebrate Christmas a little differently than did their parents. Gift-giving is as different as the types of gifts given. When I was a child, if I got a new doll for Christmas, I was happy. With our children, there were more toys as they wrote their letters to Santa and listed what they wanted. We always tried to make sure they were not disappointed on Christmas morning. The grandchildren also had long lists but no disappointments.

My great-grandson is into technical things. Whoever would have thought of the concept of an iPad or a Kindle reader or playing games on a hand-held device when I was a child, when my children were small or even when my now adult grandchildren were small? It is sort of mind-boggling the types of technical gifts children expect these days, as well as the cost.

So lots of things change over the years. Some people don’t celebrate at all and others go to the extreme in their celebrations.

However, one thing doesn’t change over the years, and that is the reason for Christmas. Many people will be in church today worshipping and celebrating that day God sent His Son into the world as a tiny baby. On that first Christmas the angels sang and people came from everywhere following a star to find this special child.

He grew into a man who was the salvation of His people — those who over the centuries believe He is Who He said He was and accept Him as Savior.

Keeping Christ in Christmas is the part of this holiday that should never change, no matter how much we change our family traditions. He is the Reason for this season and for every other season.

Merry Christmas! I pray Christmas Day is sacred and enjoyable for all of you.