When I think of my parents, I can fit them into this proverb about love and faithfulness. I know they won favour with man, but I cannot presume to know what kind of favour they had with God.
With me they did, and still do, in my memory of them, find favour. I believe I was blessed with wonderful parents and had a happy childhood.
I have many wonderful childhood memories, Christmas being on one of them. I had two sets of aunts and uncles right in Toronto where I grew up. On Christmas Eve we would all get together at the church where I grew up in Scarborough for the evening service. Church was usually a bore to this child but when you are sitting shoulder to shoulder with siblings and cousins, with visions of sugar plums (whatever they are!) dancing in your head, it was kind of fun. I can't tell you anything about the actual service except that maybe there were candles? After church we would go back to my house for goodies and visiting.
The next morning my sister and I(after sleeping for 2-4 hours or less) would wake up my mom and dad at 5 or so, since we could barely contain our excitement. My mom would not deviate from her usual routine of washing her face, brushing her teeth, putting on some lipstick, combing her hair and putting on her pearls! Plus she always wore the most beautiful negligees.... anyways, my mom is a story for another day. Before we could start opening anything my mom would make a tray of tea and toast and fruit and brought it into the living room. (maybe she thought that no one should open presents on an empty stomach?) When this lovely ritual was complete, sometimes my mom and dad would go back to bed for a bit (I figured they were sleeping!) while my sister and I played with our presents.
Later on in the morning we would have breakfast with our cousins and open presents with them. Whoever had the breakfast, did not have the supper. We took turns every year alternating breakfast and supper. After this lovely time with family once again, home we would go.
Oh my goodness, a lull on Christmas day? Not for long... soon we were packing up to go and visit some step relatives and more gift opening and snacking and then home again to get ready for the evening meal. While waiting for the next event of the day my sister and I would lovingly lay out our stash of goods under the tree and try to think if there was still anyone who hadn't given us their gift yet! Sound familiar?
The next and last part of the big day was a delilcious turkey supper! I can still see my uncle carving the meat(he had been a chef in the navy). I can taste my aunt's pies. I can see my mother's pretty face. I can picture my cousins.... all good memories. The one constant all the time was my sister.... in some ways I don't even have to see her, she was always there, always, always..... a constant in my life.
If there was any undercurrent of anger or jealousy in the family, I was totally unaware of it! That is what I remember. So, as a childhood, Christmas meant relatives, eating, presents and non-stop fun, busy, busy, busy. In the years ahead, as I was to experience some quieter Christmas days I would feel a little let-down....
And that is why Christmas can never be like that once you grow up.... you know too much! Kind of like the Garden of Eden... it wasn't so simple and so beautiful and so magical, once Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of knowledge.
Parents then, and now, love to create good Christmas memories for their children. I am happy for parents who did not emphasize presents. Christmas was mainly about just being together as a family. I am thankful for a mom, who, when we got together after we were all grown up with homes of our own, would say "It's just like Christmas!"