Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas as a Child (for Liz)

This year Tim and I are at our own home celebrating Christmas.  Everything is so quiet!  This is totally opposite from my childhood Christmas.  As a child I was blessed to live about 10 miles from both sets of grandparents.  Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were busy and noisy to say the least. 
Christmas Eve started out quietly.  All of us kids would sleep in, Daddy would wake up super early and go hunting, and Momma would be cooking, cleaning, or wrapping presents.  By lunch time Daddy would be home and we would all run around the house trying to get ready to head over to Grandma and Papa’s (Daddy’s parents) house.  As usual we were a little late but would run in and immediately start catching up with the cousins we only saw a couple times a year.  Gifts were stacked sky high under the tree (Grandma and Papa had 5 children who were all married and 14 grandchildren), food was placed on every empty counter and table, and family was crammed in the kitchen waiting for Papa Peters to bless the food.  It seemed like time stood still for all the kids gathered in the house.  The adults took so long to eat and an extra long time to clean up only to pull out desserts in order to start the whole process over again.  Finally (hours later), we all gathered around the Christmas tree and listened to Papa read the Christmas story to us all and led us in prayer.  It was now time for the gifts to be passed out.  But this was not the end to our day.
We would run back to our car and head over to Granny and Papa’s (Momma’s parents) house.  Here we started the madness all over again with less people.  Gifts were stacked under the tree, food was placed on every empty counter and table, and family was crammed in the kitchen waiting for Papa Campbell to bless the food.  Again the adults took forever to eat and clean, only to start all over again for dessert.  Finally when the busy day started catching up with us who wanted to fall asleep, the gifts started being passed out.  But we were only allowed to open one small gift.  More waiting would have to take place in order to see what else was under the tree.  Still this was not the end of our day.
We would crawl back in the car and head home.  At home we kids always exchanged gifts then Momma and Daddy exchanged their gifts to one another.  The mess was cleaned up and everyone went to bed.  It was always hard to sleep knowing we were going to wake up and have presents under the tree, but after such a busy day we eventually fell into a deep slumber.

Early in the morning Momma and Daddy would wake the four of us up and tell us to meet in someone’s room.  We all laid on the bed while Daddy read us the Christmas story and prayed.  Then they told us to stay in the room for just a minute so they could set up the video camera.  We were so excited we could hardly sit still.  Finally they called us to the living room. They would place us in front of our gifts, and we all took turns opening one.  When the last gift was opened, Momma and Daddy would make a big breakfast while we played with our new toys.  After breakfast, our day turned busy yet again.  Everyone got dressed, and we headed out to both sets of grandparents (again) as well as our two great-grandmothers. 

Thinking back on the memories I hold dear, I am so thankful I was born to a family who knew the real reason for Christmas.  Before ever opening gifts, we read the story of the greatest gift that was ever sent to us.  Of course as a child I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the reading of the Christmas story, but after hearing it year after year it finally sunk in.  How blessed we are that God sent His unique Son down to this earth to take the punishment for our sins that we could go the Heaven and spend eternity with Him!

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