Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Past...

My childhood Christmas memories hold a special place in my heart.  I think back to them with a rosy glow of nostalgic magic that grows fonder with each passing year. I remember the gifts, the electric excitement of the season, but perhaps most of all, i remember the traditions.  

Every year on Christmas eve, our family would head to church to enjoy a quaint little dark candlelit service where we’d sing carols and rejoice over the true meaning of Christmas. We said sir and ma'am, spoke with British accents, and donated our gifts to charity. We did none of that, but that's how I envision the made for tv movie. 

On the way home, we took the scenic route, driving past the most heavily decorated houses before my favorite part, the paper bag luminaries that lined the street and continued for what seemed like miles.  Staring out the window, I felt the holiday spirit rush through me as we passed the candle lit bags on the street.

My Christmas memories have always been special and I cannot wait to enjoy magical Christmas moments with my son.  But for this last childless Christmas, with my very pregnant wife in tow, I became determined to relive my Christmas past.

The weather should have been the first indicator that things weren't going according to plan.  Starting in the morning, a steady, unrelenting rain began soaking the yard.  Next, the thermostat began clicking, unable to turn on the heat pump and leaving the house at a balmy 57 degrees. But I wasn't going to let it get me down, I didn't need heat, I was warm with the glow of Christmas.

That evening, after dinner and gifts at Mom’s house, my wife and I arrived at the church just a few minutes late.  The street was blocked off, but after following the detour, we found the parking lot filled to capacity.   Well it has been over 20 years since I attended the Christmas Eve service, I thought.  And then things got weird...

We were greeted by ushers standing outside the sanctuary, who informed us that the church was filled to capacity.  I thanked the nice man, who leaned in close--for a split second I think he was going to offer us scalped tickets to the service--informing us that there is a screening room, where we were welcomed to watch with other slackers who arrived late.  We're shown to a room where, sure enough, there are around 15-20 folks watching church on tvThis is also where got the third or fourth "I told you to leave earlier."

Desperate to stick to the plan, I dragged my wife inside and began watching what had to be the lowest definition broadcast in television history. I’ve seen reel to reel footage of Civil War veterans that was of better quality than the picture on the screen.  But that isn’t the point…what was the point?  Oh yeah, it's Christmas, and I was looking forward to the luminaries on the way home, still determined to relive the magic of the past.

We made it through the sermon (which is the most important part, right?), and decide to make our exit.  After whispering one last, I told you we should have come earlier, we walked up the aisle of the small room and made our escape. 

On the way home we approached the hill and I looked for the candles.  All was dark.  The road that lit the way home from Christmas Eve church so many years ago had been turned off, perhaps due to the rain, but maybe due to time.  I took a deep breath, trying to keep my spirits up.  My wife looked at me, a smile full of pity on her face, and said:

“Honey, it has been over twenty years.”

And she’s right, it was a long time ago.  Things change, they come to an end and that's part of life.  I’ll always have those special Christmas memories from my childhood to cherish—they’re a part of me and who I am.  And now I look forward to forging new traditions with my wife and son.  Hopefully we will provide him with great memories that one day he will look back upon and think....those were the days.


  1. Ugh. Your wife is right but when it comes to Christmas traditions, I hate change. :)

    1. Yes, but I'm sure you will agree that Christmas is more fun with kids!

  2. It's tough trying to bring back that "magic" - we talked about that over dinner today how the "magic" of Christmas happens when you're young but it's harder to capture as an adult. ;)

    1. Exactly, I'm hoping the magic will return though!