My first memories of Christmas are being at my grandparents’ place on Christmas Eve. I remember Licorice Allsorts and nuts in the shell, on the coffee table. The large family meal was turkey with a stuffing of apples, prunes and spices. It must be Danish as I don’t know anyone else who made that stuffing.
I don’t remember much about the gifts except I always received a pair of homemade knit socks from my grandmother. The other memory is going to church and singing Away in a Manger.
As I got a little older I remember that we were rather poor, and I knew I would only receive one gift from my parents so it was important that I lobby for what I really wanted. A long list was not an option as they might choose the wrong item. I don’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus. I knew the gifts would be from my family. By this age I was in the Christmas program at church and as I had a loud voice, it usually meant a speaking part.
By Grade 5, I had a paper route so I had my own money. Christmas was a great time to buy myself the gift I knew my parents could not afford. I was also able to get gifts for my parents and siblings with my own money. I remember the Choir Christmas Cantata at church. I am not musical but I do love music and these Cantatas always amazed me. Christmas dinner was now either at our place or at my aunt and uncle’s.
Once married and with my own family, Christmas meant a trip either to Victoria or the north Okanagan so my children could spend Christmas with their grandparents. As we all aged Christmas moved to our place or my sisters. Now we have made the final move and Christmas dinner is at my daughter’s.
Christmas has always meant three things: Getting together with family, a great meal with all the trimmings, and being part of a church service to celebrate the birth of Christ.
I must admit there were a few years as an older child where the gifts took too much importance. Now one of the best parts of Christmas is watching the growing grandchildren taking a role in the Christmas Eve service at their church. It is great to see another generation learning the true reason we celebrate.
Merry Christmas and please remember the first gift of Christmas was the birth of the Messiah.
David Nielsen, Walnut Grove