My First Article
Jeanette Berry, December 1973
"...There is something extra
special in our family. I guess I'm really soft-hearted...but
I would regret not speaking my thoughts. I love you all."
This is taken from a letter I just received from my sister,
Barbie. It started a torrent of memories of family
traditions that linger after the family has grown up and now have
lives apart from us.
Through the years our family has
developed many traditions, the little things that spark tender
feelings. The coming of Christmas is the height of them all.
Our first Christmas tradition began
as we celebrated our first Christmas as man and wife. We had
a little tree on a table in our bedroom, the only place large
enough for it. Later our little tree tradition evolved.
Each December, at the first big snow, Tom would come home from the
office early. The children would be bundled up in snowsuits,
mittens, scarves and boots and Tom would take them to a neighbor's
tree farm or a near by woods to cut our Christmas tree. They
each took turns sawing and soon would arrive home tired, frozen,
but very proud of their beautiful tree. Tom would get me
aside and explain how we could turn that side to the wall, or
cover that bad area with decorations, but to the children it was a
Another tradition was shopping with
the children. I would supervise their shopping for their
daddy, and (though he dreaded it) he would take the three of them
shopping for me. I insisted they be very practical, but Tom
let them make their own choices and use their imagination.
As a result, one Christmas their gift for me was a gerbil,---one
of those fat, stubby little animals that look like rats without
tails. They also bought gerbils for one another. The
only exception was Danny's gift. Richard and Dianne had
forgotten and the money was all gone, so they "borrowed" enough
and bought Dan just what he always wanted, a gerbil cage!
I don't regret to say, the gerbils
did not last too long. For whatever reason, one by one they
died. Richard and Dianne insisted they were not dead, but
only hibernating, because the book said they did. I don't
know if all gerbils smell that awful when they hibernate, but
after a few days I insisted they let them hibernate underground in
the back yard.
It's fun to try to please the
people we love and to top it off by writing that special note or
message to put with the gift. The children can't wait to
give their gifts and often privately come to me and say, "Can I
give it to you early?" or "Con you guess what it is?" The children
know there is one special tradition regarding gift-giving,---our
first gift goes to the One Who first gave...Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We make it a point to give the most expensive gift to Him and to
present it before we ourselves exchange gifts.
One Christmas we had a nativity
scene with lighted, life-sized figures and taped music. It
was so inspiring you could almost imagine you were back in time
with the real people. At sunrise on Christmas morning we got
the children out of bed, drove to the church. We took our
offering of love and as a family knelt there at the altar, giving
not only our offering but renewing our love and rededicating our
family to Him. We drove home, shared our gifts with one
another and then had a wonderful breakfast. That's one of
the best of our traditions.
I could go on and on about the
little traditions of our family, but there is one last one
concerning Christmas. That is the reading of the Christmas
story from the book of Luke each year. It brings our minds
once again to what it is all about. Christ is the center of
This year may be different; the
first Christmas that our family will not be together. Dan is
in the Air Force and can not be here. But, I know what he
will be thinking. We'll be joined in spirit by those many
years of sharing; the tree; the buying of gifts; tokens of love;
our gift of love to Him first; the reading of the Christmas story.
These are the "something extra special in our family" about which
Barbie wrote in her letter.
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