Reflections of Christmases Past
By: JoMarie Grinkiewicz
I grew up in a very rich family. Not rich in the sense of fancy toys, electronics, or designer clothing, but rich in the love that absorbed through every fiber of my being each and every day.
It wasn’t until I grew up, became an adult, that Christmas seemed to lose all its magic, wonder and glory. For it was as an adult that I began to feel sadness a t this time of year. Sadness that there was so much commercialization on this special day and very little to do with the true meaning of Christmas. Sadness that so many crossed out the Christ in Christmas, and it was His Special Day! It almost felt sacrilegious to seeing “Merry Xmas” written in so many greetings and on so many department store windows.
There were four other siblings in our house and all of us were taught that Christmas was a day of celebrating and giving gifts to honor the birthday of Jesus. These gifts would include anything we felt would make Jesus smile. Being good, doing extra chores without being told, remembering to share our toys and games with children who had nothing at all, and not to fight amongst ourselves. I don’t recall hearing too much about Santa Claus in our house, but I do recall stories and caroling and going to midnight Mass. I recall my mother sitting beside my bed and singing “Silent Night” in a low and gentle voice that lulled me into beautiful dreamland places.
I recall how my dad always made sure we had a Christmas tree, even though we never got ours until Christmas Eve, when they would be marked down to 25 cents. They were the most beautiful trees I’d ever seen. All of us seemed to have looked right past the dried out needles that covered the floor. And my brothers and I got to stay up late on Christmas Eve and made popcorn balls to put on the tree.
Under the tree were newspaper wrapped gifts, which we had bought for one another. My brothers and I would start three or four months before Christmas to save our allowances, 25 cents per week, to exchange gifts and most importantly, to make sure Mom and Dad had something very special from us under the tree.
I recall one year I had bought my mom a purple bottle of Evening in Paris toilet water and when she opened it, you’d have thought I bought her a real “Evening in Paris!” I laugh at the memory of me, 8 years old, believing my older brother when he told me that I had purchased something for Mom that was made out of “toilet water.” I knew he was lying to me the moment Mom took the cap off, brought the bottle to her nose, sniffed, and smiled.
My reflections of Christmases Past are reflections of love, family laughter, sharing, giving, and little Lord Jesus asleep in the manager that sat under our Christmas tree.
Happy Birthday, Jesus! Thank you for the loving passion of Your Greatest Gift to all of us. I love you more each day.