Editor’s Note: This article below is a newspaper column that I wrote in 2005. My sister had been deceased since 1995 – Momma is in a nursing home now, Daddy passed away in 2008 and one of my brothers passed away in 2015. However, this story is about how our family, back then, spent Christmas. My Mom and Dad never met a stranger – I believe they knew the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas has always been a special time of the year in our family. Getting together with our loved ones on Christmas Eve is something that we look forward to all year long.
Ever since I can remember, we always go to over to my parent’s house for the get together. Up until last year, Momma would always fix the meal for everybody – usually it would be turkey and ham with all the other side dishes like broccoli casserole, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, fruit salad, and all kind of pies. You name it and Momma had it. And Daddy has his special thing to do (besides eating) and that is making those stuffed jalapeno peppers – I usually eat way too many of these.
Last year everyone figured that Momma deserved a break and other family members took up the slack and fixed the meal. The gathering was held at my brother’s house, so she didn’t have to worry about cleaning up after the mob. I don’t know why anyone would think that she needed a break; after all she’s only been doing this about 60 years or more.
But this year she’s back at it, on a limited basis, and will fix the ham and turkey. She said the rest of our bunch could provide the other goodies. But I’d be willing to bet that she will still do more than she should.
Somewhere about the time I reached middle age, it came to me that my folks really knew the true meaning of Christmas, and I didn’t. For example; I remember, on more than one occasion, sitting down to eat the holiday feast with a stranger seated on each side of me. “What’s this,” I thought, “isn’t this Christmas meal supposed to be just for me and the rest of our family, not some people I’ve never seen?”
When I asked who these strangers were, Momma replied, “Oh they are part of a construction crew working on the road in front of the house. They are a married couple from another state and they didn’t have family here to spend Christmas with, so we invited them to join us.”
My folks are like that. They’ve never really met a stranger because it seems that after they know someone for only a short while, they become lifelong friends.
In later years, I realized that inviting strangers for Christmas dinner is the right thing to do and we probably should do it more often. After all, the whole meaning of the holiday is to show love for your fellow man – at least that’s the way I was taught.
It’s sad that this spirit of giving is only apparent at this time of the year. I figure that if we would show compassion and love for others all year long, it might just make this old world a better place to live. I am proud to say that my folks have this outlook all the time.
Over the years, Christmas has become commercialized and many of today’s children don’t know the reason for the celebration other than it’s a time to receive gifts. Again, it’s up to the parents to teach them the true meaning of the holiday.
Some in the news media now tell us that Christmas isn’t really politically correct. In other words, if we celebrate the birth of Christ we might offend someone. I’m not a religious fanatic but the last time I looked Christians made up 80 per cent of this country’s population. That is certainly a majority and how we can let a handful of people decide what we should call this special event is beyond me.
In our family, the holiday is called “Christmas” and we have “Christmas trees.” That’s the way we were taught and that’s what we taught our kids. I trust our children are teaching their little ones the same values that their ancestors possessed.
Merry Christmas and God Bless.