Bluffton Today Column, December 22, 2006
I was sitting at a traffic light today, listening to Christmas music, watching palm fronds blow in the breeze and thought to myself - I can’t believe that I am preparing to spend my second Christmas here in the Lowcountry. How time flies.
While thinking about crafting the perfect Christmas column, I started to look back on Christmas’ past and my traditions growing up.
We would always spend Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family. Three and, for many years, four generations of our family would gather for Christmas Eve dinner. Santa always arrived after dinner and everyone (young and old) would have to sing a Christmas carol to receive their first present. Over the years, singing carols progressed into playing musical instruments, writing our own lyrics to the tune of existing carols, performing scenes from our school plays – you name it.
On Christmas morning my mom would always make our special Christmas breakfast – a Bisquick recipe that she clipped one year and had quickly become a tradition.
Our tree was always downstairs and we would have to wait for my parents to have the video camera set-up before we could go downstairs. This ensured that they would capture the look on our faces as we got our first glance at what Santa had left.
As I traveled down memory lane one moment really stands out in my mind – the year my sister and I received our own house. Not a doll house mind you, but our very own house. It was made of cardboard (but we were potty trained, so it was ok) and easily stood five feet tall. It had a working door and windows with painted-on flower boxes.
We were thrilled with this gift! And, as the video captures, despite my excitement I did make time for a brief speech … “Hi, my name is Courtney and this is my sister, Sharon, and welcome to our new home!” (Imagine that with a squeaky, high-pitched, sugar-high, Christmas morning voice.) It must have been a sign of things to come as two of my favorite hobbies are interior decorating and entertaining a house full or people. (Well that and making Joe buy me a new house every two years …)
As I reminisced about my favorite gift over the years, I thought I would ask some others what they remember as their favorite gift from Christmas’ past.
My hubby, Joe, remembers his first Huffy BMX bike right down the flat black paint. He remarks that it was “the first year of transition from the banana seat, so it was a big deal.” He is also quite certain that there must be a scar on his head somewhere from when he flipped over the handlebars in, as he says, slow motion. (This could explain why the bike he got last year for his birthday has accumulated 11 months of dust in the garage.)
Bluffton Today’s very own Kim Jones (Nature Notes columnist) said, “I was always a science nerd in the making – I remember being VERY disappointed one Christmas that I didn’t get what I REALLY wanted – a telescope – and then all the presents were unwrapped and miraculously from my parents’ bedroom came my very own telescope. That Christmas was closely rivaled by the one during which I received a microscope. Really, I never stood a chance!”
My mother, as always, had the perfect answer. She said, “That's a tough question. I've been thinking about it a lot and can't think of a single ‘thing’”. She reminded me of the Christmas my Great-Great-Aunt Mary gave away all her valuables and then how we went through Aunt Mary’s house as she prepared to move into the assisted living apartment and that none of us really wanted any of the "stuff" she spent her lifetime accumulating.
“Those moments really brought home how unimportant stuff is,” she said. “But, as I continued to think and felt like I needed to answer you, I thought of this little, pink, rubber ball that I had as a young girl. With that ball my brothers and I, and my neighborhood friends and I, would play for hours outside making up all sorts of throwing and catching games. From that (and my mother's constant "go outside and play" mantra) came my love for being outside and playing! I made a career out of it (Mom was a physical education teacher for 20 plus years) and still find myself happiest when I'm outside playing.”
So, as you hurriedly finish your last minute shopping and as you sit amidst your family Christmas morning, make memories. They really do last a lifetime.
Merry Christmas Bluffton!
March Writing Assignment
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