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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas Past!

My first Christmas was in Immanuel children's home in Omaha. Needless to say I don't remember it. I imagine the Deaconesses there did what they could to celebrate Christ's birth. It was during the war years, so from history we know there was rationing, and hardship, and families separated. After I was adopted and we moved to Colorado, I remember the Christmases as times of wide eyed wonder, snow, and my heart's desires. Yes you could say I was a spoiled, long waited for, only child. I vaguely remember at about two years old, I became aware of lights on a Christmas tree. According to the grown ups, my Dad went up into the mountains, picked a tree, cut it, and brought it home. In those days you were allowed to do things like that. After it was decorated, my parents brought me into the living room, dimmed the floor lamps, and lit the Christmas tree. My Dad said my eyes got big, and I clapped my hands and said, "Oh Boy!" He said that was the best thing ever. I remember from then on the joy of snowfall on Christmas Eve. We always had oyster soup, crackers, cheese, and meat for supper, then we went to Church. One particular Christmas, as we walked out of  Church
at Midnight, snow was falling. It was so quiet, and magical that night. Christmas in the 1940s was a time for families. Stores were not open on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. It was a time of not worrying about offending anyone when you said Merry Christmas. Getting ready for Christmas, and celebrating it was a busy time, but it was not stressed, or all about shopping. It was a time to remember Jesus birth, and to be with friends and family, and to enjoy the season.

One of the best memories was driving from our city, Ft. Collins to Denver to shop. You shopped downtown, not in a mall. The streets were decorated with lights and trees, but it was the department store windows that captured my little girl attention. There were many stores in downtown Denver, and each one vied to have the very best Christmas display. They were elaborate, and animated, and beautifully lit up. What a wonderful tradition that has been lost in history. We always stayed downtown at the Brown Palace Hotel while in Denver. While my Dad did business, Mom and I could walk to the stores. There was a movie theater across the street. It was there I saw the classic movie that had just come out, White Christmas. I remember the clerks in the stores were always polite and friendly, and everyone wished each other a Merry Christmas!

We moved to Sioux City, Iowa when I was 6. Christmas there now included family that were too far away when we were in Colorado. School programs included Silent Night, Joy To The World, and a Nativity. Santa was a part of Christmas, but never in place of Baby Jesus. The best part of Christmas then was going to my grandparents in Wayne, Nebraska. I got to play with cousins, and the food was always good Swedish fare. There were turkeys, hams, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing. There were presents, and always something special from my grandpa. We spent Christmas according to our faith, and none of us had to worry about offending someone else. Many friends of ours were Jewish. They knew their Hanukkah was different from our Christmas, and that was alright. We visited each other's homes, and were merely curious but never offended by our differences.

I think it is pretty amazing we of the 40s and 50s got along just fine with other's beliefs, and no one ever felt like we were being picked on or offended just because we didn't believe the same. What happened to our world? Now we can't do this or say that, because we don't want anyone to feel bad. I am offended that it is always we that follow Jesus that are the offenders. No one else is told to change the names of their holidays or religious celebrations. We are told from our schools to our businesses to our everyday lives, that we should not say Merry Christmas. It is Happy Holidays, Winter Solstice, or anything other than Christmas. I'm sorry, but instead of Christmas Day on our calendars, I guess we should have Holiday Day. How silly does that sound?  This is where Christians need to stand taller, and object louder! We are many in number, but we are too quiet about our Jesus and His birthday.

If Jesus willingly came to earth, born in most humble circumstances, as a human, then died a horrible death for us, we should be shouting loud and clear that we will celebrate Christmas! In one school, the ACLU decided that Christmas Carols, were not appropriate because it led people to have religious thoughts. If Christ's music, celebrating His Birthday, sung by His people lead to religious thoughts, I say, "Praise The Lord!"   And MERRY CHRISTMAS!"