The pages of my Christmas Past are written from the overflow of my thankfulness for what God has given in wrapped gifts of family and friends, of neighbors and acquaintances, of good times and yes, even hard times.
God is the bow and ribbon which ties up every good and perfect gift He has allowed and added to enlarge the borders of my heart for His glory.
I am a blessed woman because of a good and generous God, who has given me sixty-two Christmas’ thus far to celebrate, sixty-two Christmas trees to decorate with ornaments which tell the stories, the longings written from the pages of my Christmas past.
Years of history is on display at our house during the holiday season, yet one might not notice among the bright lights and fancy decorations set out in each room for a child’s delight during Christmas.
Sometimes it takes the little girl still living inside her adult self who remembers and re-counts the stories written so long ago, to give you the grand and wonderful tour of her Christmas pasts.
The centerpiece of our home growing up was always our mother, who gave her five daughters and one son the happiest and most memorable holidays a child could ever ask for.
We didn’t have much although we didn’t know it, because mother stretched Christmas and our memories for weeks with a freezer full of homemade cookies baked in our mother’s kitchen, greeting cards in the mail, tree decorating, children’s plays at church, visiting Santa, her homemade coffee cake served on Christmas morning and those few but specially picked presents we six kids couldn’t wait to open gathered around the tree.
As an adult now longing for her mother at Christmas, I set out her nativity scene and holiday lights every year to have a small reminder of the centerpiece who gave six children the best December’s to write about.
At the age of twenty-one and twenty-six I became a mother of two, and strived to create those Christmas’ my children would one day write about among the pages of their Christmas pasts.
A small tree is reserved for those ornaments my elementary age son and daughter created with their young hands to give as gifts and hide beneath the tree for this mother until Christmas morning.
There’s even a Santa ornament I made with my own elementary hands hanging on this miniature tree.
I delicately wrap each of these treasures individually to persevere the history of their childhood and will one day pass these ornaments on to them in their Christmas future.
Passed on to this adult granddaughter were a set of my grandmother’s vintage angel ornaments.
I was beyond grateful to have a piece of history I remember enjoying on my grandmother’s tree when we celebrated Christmas Eve for years at her house.
I long for those evenings with her and our grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins celebrating the holidays together, though sadly, December 24th has never been the same since our grandparents stopped hosting our family tradition.
Then David and I became grandparents of eleven, with one getting ready to experience the joys of the holiday for the very first time this December, adding his picture to our grandchildren’s memory wall and all the trimmings of Christmas for him.
The longing for our ten grandchildren to be little again is an understatement, as somehow these ten have outgrown their holiday pajamas almost as quickly as they put them on.
The Christmas faces smiling at their grandparents are no longer babies, toddlers or young children.
They grew up behind our backs and in a hurry.
Our two youngest are six years of age now, our oldest is an adult and driving, there are two teenagers and two close enough: all grown up from those cherubs posing in their Christmas pajamas.
For a few years, my sisters and I added to the holiday stress of exchanging homemade Christmas crafts with each other.
There was a season when the cousins even began their homemade ornament exchange.
This tradition ended as all good things do, but these crafts from my sister’s hands are a treasure on my tree, although stirs a longing when sisters couldn’t wait for this wonderful reveal from Christmas pasts.
Displayed is a holiday tea set given to me by a dear friend as God’s reminder of friendships and the gift they are meant to be received.
Once every month, breakfast served with coffee and tea is scheduled among friends, my friends, in an intentional way to keep our love and friendship in full bloom with one another.
Time Spent Over Tea
By Lori A Alicea
A cup of tea among dear friends,
A place where memories start.
An afternoon of words exchanged,
Refreshment for the heart.
The music of the spoken word,
Could listen all day long.
When played, sweet life it does impart,
Creates a special song.
It may be just an afternoon,
Of time spent over tea.
But conversation shared with you,
Means all the world to me.
As much as the pages of my Christmas pasts are filled with great joy, there are those chapters stained with our tears from broken hearts over those we have loved in our good-byes to them.
Our family has become the intimate few from the crowded houseful we once knew and terribly miss when mother was still with us.
So many vacant seats now around the holiday table to remind us of those memorable Christmas’ we once knew as a family in mother’s home.
An ornament mother gave me hangs on my tree to remember her by.
Another ornament reminder from my stepmother Joyce.
The longings from Christmas pasts are stirred every year in these memory ornaments of my father, mother, sister Mary and Belinda and brother Mark.
I look at my sister Debbie’s ornament and am saddened of the pain which is still fresh from this summer good-bye of her husband Andy.
The emptiness and agony have been unbearable at times for our sister and their children and grandchildren. We grieve for them in our prayers, text messages, telephone calls and time spent together.
Navigating Christmas is an hour-by-hour array of emotions this year.
My sister Debbie shares the same heart ache and pain with our niece Amy Lynn who has shed an ocean of tears over the most recent good-by of her husband Buzzy.
Amy Lynn and their son David are numb and without joy to decorate for Christmas this year.
As best as we can, our family wraps their arms around these two to bridge the miles which separate our long-distance lives.
This homemade nativity scene was created from Buzzy’s woodshed and now decorates my tree for which I’m beyond thankful to have a tangible piece of his heart.
Christmas present would not be complete without creating new traditions to fill in the voids and longings from Christmas past.
Giving our sister Debbie something to fill an empty heart with as well as sister and niece time for us, dinner is now being served once a month with each taking a turn to host a meal around their table.
I hosted dinner just the other day with comfort food our mother used to make.
This tradition of getting together has been a beautiful gift to open, especially during the holidays.
The past twenty-nine Christmas’s has been spent and shared with the love of my life, David.
He has been the gift I treasure most around the Christmas tree of my heart.
David is a gift I open every day we wake up together, and him coming home to me is the only gift on my Christmas list each day of the year.
I am most thankful to God for him.
The pages and chapters of my Christmas pasts are filled with an abundance of joy, of laughter, and even sorrow with many tears.
Yet, God is the bow and ribbon which ties up every good and perfect gift He has allowed and added to enlarge the borders of my heart for His glory.