In my family, Christmas was a special time, but a joyous one. My father was a pastor, so we were always involved in the church Christmas program, and of course the Christmas Eve candlelight service. In addition, my father was a volunteer firefighter, so he always helped escort Santa into town a week before Christmas. He'd ride into town on the fire truck, passing out brown paper bags full of hards candy, peanuts, and an apple and an orange to all the kids in town. In the small town of Filer, Idaho, that was the closest we got to a Christmas parade.
On Christmas eve, we'd head home after service (we lived next door to the church), then we'd have hot cocoa or cider, and we'd listen to my dad read the Christmas story to us. then we'd open one present, and then go to bed. The next day we'd get up and go through the typical ritual of opening presents, one at a time, everyone taking turns. To this day that's how I prefer things. In The Feared Redhead's family, they open ALL the FAMILY presents Christmas Eve, then the Santa presents in the morning. We're still developing our own style, mostly because most Christmases are spent with the rest of one family or the other, and, well, when in Rome...
My father's last Christmas was in 2000. That year, he and I shared a special extra treat with each other -- we got to go to the Holiday Bowl and watch our Ducks defeat Texas. It was the last football game he ever attended. He died on July 18, 2001.
I miss him quite often, but especially now, at his favorite time of year. My joy is tinged with a bit of sadness, but I am comforted to know I will see him again. Of all the Christmas traditions over the years, the one I cherish most, and the one I now miss, is hearing my father's voice read these words:
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Merry Christmas to all of you who read my blog, and thank you for your good will. May the Peace of God be with you this precious Advent.