As I drove home to Mississippi from Atlanta this afternoon the sun was setting in a partially cloudy sky. I had Christmas music playing on my radio, and the sunroof was up. I began to think about why it is that I love Christmas so much. As I began to think I realized that Christmas is packed full of some of the greatest memories. Every year they come back through various traditions and moments to make the season merry. So, I decided to write some of my favorite Christmas memories, things, or snapshots (if you will) in no particular order (40 to be exact). I’m sure I will forget some, and I would love you to add some with your comments! Feel free to add moments that we shared or even a few of your own favorite memories of Christmas!
1. My third Christmas is one of my earliest memories. I received my E. T. stocking and doll as well as my loveseat and a couple of books. Walking down the stairs and finding an E. T. stocking stuffed with all kinds of fruit, candy and nuts was the highlight of the season for me that year.
2. My dad telling us to put socks on our feet so we didn’t catch a cold
3. Molly, our cousin Stephanie, and I would all get matching nightgowns at my Mawmaw Smith’s house. After shooting fireworks, we would all three put them on, take a picture and wear them home where our fathers carried our sleeping bodies into our respective houses.
4. Kirsten and Amy’s plate of goodies that they made for us every year of college. They spent all day cooking goodies for us so that we could have something good to eat in the dorm.
5. A tin of Mrs. Carolyn’s Scrabble
6. Christmas day growing up we would go to Mimi and Grandaddy’s house where Santa always left us a stocking (or brown paper bag in later years) full of more goodies! Santa always put small toys in those stockings!
7. Running up my phone bill helping Jonathan pick out Christmas presents for his family so that year they wouldn’t get a t-shirt from whichever random town he was living in at the time.
8. My mother always makes bachelor’s brunch on Christmas morning. It’s the only time of the year she makes it…and I love it!
9. Christmas in the Cotton Patch!
10. Similarly, the golf club Christmas parties at rotating houses followed by going to Christmas in the Cotton Patch (and of course the year that somebody bumped their car door into Daddy’s brand new van).
11. Sleeping with Molly on Christmas Eve so that we could be closer to downstairs and could run down to see our presents as soon as we were allowed. We would giggle all night long before waking Jeff up at about 4 to begin rotating who would ask if it was time yet!
12. Calling Mr. Vance about a week or a week and a half before Christmas to see if he could scrounge around to find us a decent Christmas tree!
13. My mother’s strength on the Christmas after Daddy died. Our happiness was more important to her than all of our loss, and she did everything she could to make that Christmas as good as it could be. We all over-spent on gifts that year thinking that more stuff would lessen the hurt. Unlike ever before, that Christmas I learned how little presents had to do with the meaning and joy of Christmas.
14. Swapping ornaments with the golf club
15. My Mawmaw Smith’s yellow cake with Chocolate icing and my Pawpaw’s buck dance that seemed to be staples of Christmas Eve.
16. This year when I asked Charlie what he wanted from Santa, he replied, “An orange Spongebob and cupcakes.” We walked through the fact that an orange Spongebob doesn’t exist. He said Santa was magic, and he could make it happen. Then I asked him if he told Santa to let Mrs. Clause know he wanted cupcakes. He looked at me with the sweetest grin and said, “Yibby, I don’t need Mrs. Clause. You can make them for me!”
17. Buying the perfect paper and ribbons so that whoever opened a gift from me knew that it came not from my wallet but from my heart and time. I want my gifts to be pretty!
18. One of my recent favorites has been baking with my mother
19. Running into DiAnne around midnight at Walmart at some point before Christmas day
20. My parents sitting in the den with only the Christmas tree lights on listening to records, and my dad using my leg as a guitar as I sat in his lap.
21. My great-grand parents, Mawmaw and Pawpaw Dewey, coming to Mimi and Grandaddy’s house for Christmas day
22. Spending Christmas Eve lunch at Mimi and Grandaddy’s watching As the World Turns and waiting on mom and dad to finish up last minute Christmas shopping, wrapping or assembling.
23. The year it snowed on Christmas Eve and plans had to be changed. We ended up doing Christmas at Mawmaw’s and Pawpaw’s a week later. Jeff Cunningham came and brought his guitar. Our whole family sat around singing Christmas Carols, oldies, and a little Merle.
24. Last year Charlie walked into a den strewn with toys only to look around and say, “Where’s my Spongebob cake?!”
25. As a child I looked forward to getting Effinbee dolls from Mimi and State tshirts or other memorabilia from Aunt Kathy
26. Jeff’s pure excitement on Charlie’s first Christmas. For the first time in about a decade, Jeff was no longer the only man in the family. It didn’t matter to him that Charlie was only 16 days old!
27. When Jonathan was living in California, I always looked forward to the day after Christmas because JD would be in Jackson and I would be out of school. For a whole week we could hang out, watch movies, wish Happy Kwanza to people, and catch up.
28. My mother made our stockings out of a quilt MawMaw Dewey made from Pawpaw Dewey’s old suits. I love the heritage of them, but I also love how Momma made each one unique and contemporary with our names and different trim.
29. As we got older, gift opening no longer became a free for all. Instead we open one present at a time in a circle, and we all clap and praise the gift and its giver! It gives us a chance to take it all in, and it takes HOURS for us to open presents. It ends up being a good excuse to all sit in a circle, laugh, cry, cheer, and tell funny stories.
30. Every year Molly and I go nuts buying for each other. The benefit of being best friends with your sister is that you know them all too well. So, you always see something that they would want or love. Molly and I never have to tell each other what we want. What we want is what the other finds and thinks, “She’s GOT to have that!”
31. Going to look at Christmas lights with my friends. On different years, Amy, Kirsten, Travis, Heather, Wes and Jonathan and I would round up and make fun of the various displays of lights, blowups, and wooden figurines. There was always that one house past the Devore’s and the one house that took us forever to find every year that was so respectable it made the Griswolds look like the Grinch!
32. Singing "Merry Christmas from the Family" with Molly! We usually get in the car for a Walmart run and sing as loud as we can through every single word of the song emphasizing our favorite parts with fist pumps and extra loud yells! Every year…without fail, Molly tells me the story about Scott Branning loving Robert Earl Keene.
33. Going to Jeff’s house for breakfast in our pajamas Christmas morning. What started out as a compromise for all grandparents has turned into a wonderful gathering of our family and Lauren’s.
34. Last year I had a 24-hour stomach bug on Christmas Eve, and Molly made me wear a dental mask so that I didn’t infect the rest of the family. She and Momma wouldn’t let me come down and be with them until I wore the mask, and then after four hours of me wearing a mask in order to be with them, Molly tells me she was just kidding about the mask all along!
35. Aunt Kathy reminding me every Christmas, while I’m handing out the plethora of presents, that as the youngest she spent her whole life doing it until I came along.
36. I always wait for the annual Christmas call from Kirsten. For the last ten years, Kirsten has always called on Christmas day. No matter where she’s lived, she’s called. The years it was from Tanzania or Israel, the whole family would stop what they were doing while my mom yelled, “IT’S KIRSTEN FROM [Insert country]!!!” They all sat around and talked about the latest news they had heard from Kirsten while we caught up on the phone. My whole family awaits Kirsten’s Christmas call.
37. Likewise, but not always as from afar is John Hugh’s Christmas morning call. Every year of our lives John Hugh has called to wish the Crews family a Merry Christmas and to talk to Jeff. It doesn’t matter that Jeff no longer lives at Momma’s. John Hugh still calls Momma’s house every Christmas Morning. We wait on it much like we awaited Santa Clause!
38. Christmas afternoon naps after the food has been eaten and the presents have been opened.
39. Jeff and I used to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas every Thanksgiving, and I always wrap presents to the latest version of Miracle on 34th Street
40. 24 Hours of A Christmas Story!!
None of these things have anything directly to do with the birth of Jesus – no more so than blowing out candles on February 2nd has to do with my birth. However, each of them reminds me of immense amounts of joy and love – the love of family and friends, and the love that caused God to send His Son, Jesus, to earth. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season! Enjoy this Christmas week knowing that it’s not necessarily the day but the moments that make Christmas special.