We have a box of odds and ends that we retrieve from the attic each Christmas. Many items have been placed in the tattered but sturdy old box over the years.
There’s a string or two of Christmas lights that haven’t worked in this decade; it’s a good place to look for spare bulbs. There are many odd looking parts left over from assembling the kid’s toys on Christmas Eve. Amazingly, the toys seemed to work okay without them.
There is an unused 1976 calendar commemorating the U.S. bi-centennial. And a roll of exposed film, long ago expired, that still sparks speculation about the images it might contain.
There are two Christmas cards all sealed up and ready to mail — except for the incomplete addresses of friends who have moved far away. And some old decorations we don’t use anymore but can’t bring ourselves to throw away.
Rummaging through the old box each year stirs up memories of Christmases past and it usually prompts our annual discussion on the correct way to pronounce Poinsettia. Then we talk about the way Grandma Hester always used to holler, “Christmas Eve Gift!” when she first saw you on Christmas Eve. Presumably, in her day when two people met on Christmas Eve, the first one to offer the greeting “Christmas Eve Gift!” was to receive a gift from the other.
During this season, a simple thought can bloom in to intricate memories of singing along with the Christmas music playing on the radio, the aroma of cakes, pies and other goodies in the air, and the elaborately tinseled Christmas tree in the living room.
There were no artificial trees in those days. We always cut our own from the woods somewhere nearby. Mom and Dad could make even the ugliest tree look beautiful. It sparkled and gleamed although there were no colored lights. Many of the decorations were old and homemade. Wonder and mystery surrounded the packages under the tree. Some were bound in last year’s boxes with wrapping paper recycled by ironing out the wrinkles.
We had apples wrapped in purple paper, oranges and nuts; even a coconut which when held a certain way looked like a monkey’s face – or as someone always remarked, “a lot like uncle Jess.”
I know these words and phrases do not reflect the true meaning of Christmas. Nevertheless, I believe playing “Christmas Eve Gift” and the joy of remembering happy moments at Christmastime are yet more gifts from God for saints and sinners all. Merry Christmas!