Christmas season not just for children

Published 10:57 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas is not just for children. Yes, the gimma, gotcha stuff is geared to children but that is not a real Christmas.

As a child I often participated in Christmas pageants at Church Street Grammar School, First Congregational, and First Presbyterian.

It was so exciting to be chosen, so I always knew my songs or speeches to perfection. The look of pride and pleasure on my parents’ faces was the high point of the night.

The homemade costumes were very creative, thanks to my mother and aunt Mary, and looking back, I’ll bet a large portion of their Christmas was the gift of music I gave to them. I surely hope so.

Trips were a requirement so we’d go to Brewton for a big meal, usually held at aunt Jewel and uncle Phillip’s. Food, food and more food.

We didn’t swap gifts — too many folks — but rather the whole day was for family.

Tall tales were told near the gas space heater or fireplace, ideas exchanged, teasing, wishing, discussion of previous family get-togethers, passing the newest baby around, gathering wood, clearing the table and washing what seemed like 500 plates, bowls and cooking utensils. The Silver Dust laundry detergent made the dishwater slippery –– so we had to toss it out often and get fresh hot water off the stove and cool water from the hanging pail.

We were using three dishpans –– one hot wash, one hot rinse and one warm rinse.

Mary Ann, Phyllis, Tommy and I could clean up a kitchen by the time we were 10 or so. Don’t see that now, do you?

We had pine trees for Christmas, holly and mistletoe fresh out of the woods, cut-out snowflakes, construction paper chains, a few red bows we kept from year-to-year and we were decorating.

My mom had a collection of pinecones spray-painted a variety of colors and sprinkled with gold glitter. Big gifts were not often given. One year, however, I got a Goodyear blue and white bike and my brother got a .22 rifle.

But Christmas, whether at our own home, Granny’s or Grandpa and Grandma’s, was always about being together —cooking, eating, catching up on the latest family news, sharing goals and dreams for the future — not about gifts.

At my grandparents’, a pack of socks or handkerchiefs and some candy or fruit was the general rule. Christmas past is a beautiful memory. I hope along the way my kids have been absorbing their own memories to share with their children and grandchildren someday.

This year I intend to do some “absorbing” of my own — watching Madison, Austin, Luke, Jordan and Kennedy with their excited eyes and eager hands. That will be my Christmas gift. Of course, the ultimate gift was and is Jesus Christ.

Sandra Thames is a community columnist for Alabaster. She can be reached by e–mail at