Whenever I read Country Living magazine, I find myself a tad envious when I read, “My grandmother’s garden smelled of gardenias,” or “the smell of pumpkin pie reminds me of home.” No smell reminds me of home and I don’t even know if my Grandma had a garden. But one thing that brings my childhood immediately back to me is the sound of Christmas music. You too? Or is it just me?
I was recently leaving Cost Plus (by the way, they have the cutest linen Christmas hand towels I’ve seen this year!) and as I got into my car, I heard my first Christmas song on the radio, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby. And before I could put my car in reverse, the tears were beginning to well up in my eyes.
And as they do each and every single year, I always ask myself, Why? What is it about Christmas music that always gets to me?
I’ve thought about it long and hard this year, and I think it reminds me of safety. Being safe in the home that I grew up in. No one had died, no one was sick, all was well. My life consisted of Barbies and brownies. And maybe, although I couldn't wait to grow up, there’s a little part of me that misses that. Really misses being back home with my family.
As I hear familiar Christmas songs like the Carpenters’ ”Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or Perry Como’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” (boy, am I old or what?), I’m instantly transported back to our family room. I remember sitting on the couch, watching the Santa Claus Lane Parade while my mom reaches over my head to balance our little red and green felt elves on the branches of a manzania tree branch that “decoratively” hung on the wall over our couch. I think I hated that thing.
I remember our fake Christmas tree lit with old-fashioned colored bulbs and lots of silver tinsel. It stood beside two shelves that held our Encyclopedia Brittanicas. Anyone remember those things? And I remember my mom hanging our red "velvet" stockings with the white furry cuffs (that I think everybody had in the 1970s) on the mantle. Since our mantle was made of used brick and you couldn’t put nails in to it to hang up the stockings, my mom would wrap a rubber band around each loop of a stocking and then wrap the other end around the end of a brick. I remember, even as a kid, thinking that was an ingenious idea. Then she would put a sheet of flattened cotton on the mantle and nestle some white plastic reindeers in it. Each year, it seemed that a reindeer would lose another leg or another antler. But up they went.
And that’s the visual each and every year I hear a familiar Christmas song. Funny what sticks in your head, isn’t it?
Another thing that sticks is at the end of the night, when I would be in my bedroom putting away my presents (one year I got several pairs of Dittos and Luv-Its with matching tops -- now that was a good Christmas!) my mom would come in my room and ask if I liked everything I opened. Then she would hug me and choke back the words, “I love you” while standing in front of my closet. I would also choke back the words, “I love you, too.” We’d pull back from each other and kind of laugh that we were both crying. I think the tears came because we only said, “I love you” on Christmas night. Kind of weird, huh? But those three words just didn’t flow in our house, though we knew our parents loved us. Hearing those words was kind of a Christmas gift too.
So as December begins and we draw closer to Christmas Day, may your memories be good ones. I hope my kids remember loving their stockings more than their gifts (I did!), sharing God’s love with family, friends and strangers (we’ll be “elfing” this year -- knocking on a few doors sharing cookies and small gifts) and most importantly, that Jesus’ birth trumps any Christmas gift they could ever ask for.
Speaking of Jesus' birth, my friend Teri and I will be opening our homes on Thursday, December 13th for the
Christian Girl's Cottage first Christmas Home Tour.
Our decorating is nearly complete and we're thrilled to share our love of Christmas and our love for the Lord with all of you.
Once we put the final touches on them, I'll share a few photos of both of our homes along with an invitation with all the details.
Our home tour is free, but we're hoping to raise a little money for the "can't do cancer without God" ministry that God has so richly blessed our lives with.
Please mark your calendars (before they're jam-packed) for December 13th so that we can see each and every one of you. Now that would be a good Christmas memory!