Christmas Then and Now- Sharon's Story

Meet my friend Sharon. Sharon is the one I spoke of yesterday that shares the message that causes a ruckus on our Mom's Panel. Miss that one? Catch up right here----> HERE

Today she shares a story of her Christmases through the years, from her childhood, through adulthood as a mom, and now how it looks during the "grandma" years. You can follow her humorous and inspirational blog at Sister Chat. She's always up to something, so it's a good read!


Everybody’s story of their family of origin is different.  It took me a while to discover that the Norman Rockwell scenes were FICTION!  After that revelation I was a much happier person.  Evidently even as a child, I’d been comparing my life with what I THOUGHT my friend’s lives were like and of course I came up short, especially at the holidays. (Only as an adult have I come to realize that all families struggle with something and perfectionism is a curse.)

My mother died when I was 11 months old, my sister was 3.  Our alcoholic father placed us in the care of our maternal grandparents and a bachelor uncle.  We were poorer than church mice but didn’t know it at the time!

Our Christmas celebrations and decorations were FAB.  At least I thought so, it’s all I knew.  They consisted of a ragged cedar tree that my uncle cut and brought in from the woods near our small town and some red and green crepe paper, twisted and taped to the ceiling corners of our very small living room. The tree was covered with those terrible silver string “icicles” and a plastic red and white star that I still treasure.  My sister and I had red “swirl” skirts and a piano!  We practiced “Drummer Boy” and “O Holy Night” for weeks for our “Christmas Program” which we and whatever cousins we could wrangle into the performance would deliver.  Our audience would be our grandparents, show time was immediately BEFORE opening presents on Christmas Eve.

Early Christmas Eve evening, the married uncles would bring their wives and many children to our home and absolutely FILL that tiny house.  After we kiddos sang a song or two, after each person opened ONE gift, the adults would crowd into the kitchen for pie. Granny had spent the day baking all kinds; chocolate cream covered with meringue was my favorite.  That party usually lasted a couple of hours. On Christmas Morning we opened ONE very small gift from Santa, checked out the hard Christmas candy (usually stuck to the inside toe of the stocking) examined the ONE huge orange in our stocking and ate turkey dinner.  It was great!  It’s all we knew and it was enough.

Our Christmas celebrations have since magnified ten-fold. 

I learned from my days in 4-H how to set a table and bake Christmas goodies. After marriage and two boys arrived, our Christmas celebrations grew and were refined to say the least.  We began to party the whole month of December. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook a turkey, sweet potatoes and cheese peas! I had an older woman friend in every city we’ve lived and each shared tips and recipes.   My time spent teaching the Bible to adults gave me the depth of the absolute miracle of Christmas.  I studied Southern Living magazine, took Christmas tours, watched my friends, and yes, looked at Norman Rockwell type paintings. I copied every good idea I saw and so our decorations, food, and celebrations became a hodge podge of everything. Pictures prove that Christmas was often “over the top.” 

Sending out Christmas cards continues to be a favorite activity as I thank God for each person on my list, remember times we’ve spent together and pray for each one and their family.  I’m going to dread the day when hard-copy Christmas cards go out of fashion!

We incorporated stockings filled with toys, a mound of gifts for each boy, lights on the house, music, church services, gathering gifts and taking them to the underprivileged, two trees in the house, Snow Village set-ups, a blow-up Santa riding in an airplane, many children’s Christmas books, kids parties, adult parties, church parties, clothespin cookies, and yes, CHOCOLATE PIE.  

Often the Christmas morning activities would begin very early, one year it was 2 a.m.  Whoever woke up first was the signal for the party to start!

One year when our oldest was three, he was invited to speak at our church and he recited from memory all of Luke 2.  I’d drawn pictures of the story on butcher paper to help him grasp the details.   

Now the “boys” are grown and have many children of their own. And we make NEW Christmas traditions. We visit them bearing gifts (usually not on THE day) and “fit into” their wives and in-laws plans.  We go to church with them, sledding, shopping or whatever they want to do.  It’s fun to watch them make their own memories with their children. 

We spoil the grandchildren terribly and are forming new traditions with them. (Making homemade noodles, taking a light tour, unwrapping gifts on a “pretend” Christmas morning.)  And we try to find time to go back to the “family of origin” and take the trip down memory lane.

I think I’ll go make a chocolate pie!

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