Amazing how magical Christmas time can be as a child.  Not only Christmas Day, but everything leading up to Christmas that was always so special, and some of my fondest memories of being almost 5 years old all revolve around Christmas.

It usually started with the Lions Club that my parents belonged to for so many years, having their annual Christmas pot luck dinner that was held in a little former farm school grange just east of our little town.  We’d all gather together with other family members of the Lions Club bringing in their best homemade sides and deserts to go along with the turkey and ham that members of the Lions Club would cook to perfection.  After dinner, the kids of the Lions Club members would get up and perform.  Usually, my sister Peggy would play a bouncy little tune on the piano, the Wilson boys would play something on their trumpets, and it was that year that my mom discovered that I had an ear for music, after hearing me pick out “The First Noel” on our old piano that we had on our back porch.  She insisted that I play it for the Lions Club, but I wanted to sing “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.”  I probably should have stuck with the piano, because while I was singing, the microphone started to feedback, and it would make this blaring ear piercing sound.  Not knowing what it was, I proceeded to stick the microphone in my ear, and said “Hey, there’s a whistle in here…”   After the laughter died down, I got to play my little song on the piano, whistle excluded, however my ears were sure ringing after sticking the microphone in them!

Then it was on to our little Christmas concert at our elementary school.  We learned all of these great Christmas songs, and it was such a joy to be able to have grown up in a time where it was perfectly fine to sing those Christmas songs. (I still think they’re just as special as ever before!)  I learned how to play the drums at the age of 5, thanks to my 2 brothers who let me bang away on their old drum set, and thanks to my patient parents who spent many a night hearing us pound out our rhythms, even though it must have driven them nuts!  I got to play the snare drum at our Christmas concert to “The Little Drummer Boy,” which that year, was actually the little drummer girl!  After bending over to carry the drum off the stage I was quickly reminded of how un-lady like it is to bend over while wearing a dress!  I thought I was going to die of embarrassment after discovering that everyone knew I had polka dots on my under garments!

Sitting on Santa’s lap was a big ordeal for we little kids, and we could always expect him riding over to the local bank in town so we could anxiously wait in line to see Mr. “Ho Ho Ho” himself!  I gladly hopped on his lap to tell him of my wishes on my Christmas list, and crossing my fingers behind my back when he asked if I had been a good little girl!

Christmas Eve was truly magical.  My family would go to our church for a special service, which was special, not only because it was Christmas Eve, but because it was at 11pm, which meant we got to stay up until after midnight, a big thing when you're a kid!  We’d all sing Christmas carols while watching our flickering lights from our candles illuminate the church with such warmth.  

When we got home, we were rushed off to bed in a flash, with instructions that we were to close our eyes real tight and not peak, because Santa wouldn’t arrive if he knew we weren’t asleep.  Even though it was hard to sleep from all the excitement, we would soon tucker out, only to wake up and realize that Christmas finally arrived, usually at the wee hours of 5am, my poor, exhausted parents!

We all were given a present to tear open, even though my mom was trying to save the wrapping paper.  We all would “ooh and aah” at each others gifts; my sister Peggy’s beautiful sweater, my sister Mary’s hot roller set, my brother John a new set of drum sticks to go along with his new cymbals, brother Steve a new amp for his guitar, and finally to me, what I’ve been dreaming of, a Salon Barbie, which was basically this gigantic Barbie doll head that you could put makeup on her face, and style her hair, just like you had your own salon.  I must have aspired to be a hair designer, however, that quickly faded when I decided to give Salon Barbie a haircut, only to discover that her hair would not be growing back, ever!    My mom in her turquoise flannel bed coat and brush rollers, and my dad pouring his 9th cup of coffee, would watch with joy, seeing their little kids faces light up with glee from their presents, well most of them.  There was usually those gifts that you would get that didn’t have quite the joyous glee than, say a new doll.  Gifts like underwear and socks weren't usually the biggest hit.  As we gals got older, my mother would always give us infamous “stray-jacket” brazier that we would get every year, oh how we wished we had gotten socks!

As I think of these times, I can’t help but think of the true core behind those memories and why they're so special, and it comes down to this, family!  Being surrounded by my family on that special day was truly a gift, because even though I couldn’t stand my siblings 364 days of the year, that one day served as a reminder of a blessing we do have every day of the year that we should never take for granted, each other.  It was a time to gather with our family outside of our little home, our family of friends, and how thankful we were for each and every one of them.  And it was also a reminder to us why we actually celebrate this special day in the first place, the birth of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, something that we tend to forget or take for granted the rest of the days of the year.   

Both my mom and dad are gone now, and most of us bratty little kids are scattered through different states, which makes getting together rather difficult.  Maybe that’s the reason why memories like these will always be special to me, and how GOD lets me open those precious gifts of family memories.  Every Christmas these memories come flooding back to these magical days, and as each year goes by, they only become even more meaningful to me!  Here’s hoping you’re making memories with your family this Christmas, so that you too, will have those "special gifts" to fill your memories!