Tags: Community & Outreach
Katie VanBrackle and her brother. (click for larger version)
December 26, 2012Christmas means cooperation. My older brother and I tended to annoy each other most of the time, but when the holidays rolled around, we were in tight cahoots.
I remember the year we performed a spectacular Christmas morning cantata outside the door to my parents' bedroom at 6 a.m. sharp, belting out lively carols at the top of our lungs, accompanied by various toy instruments and at least three howling dogs.
I have a lot of memories of Christmas in Rhode Island. My parents were big in decorating both inside and outside of the house, and when it snowed, it was a beautiful sight.
The best thing about Christmas was the food. Christmas night we would have our family for dinner, and the main course was French meat pies also known as toutquetts.
This was our traditional Christmas dinner. My father was a great cook. No matter how hard I try, I cannot match his expertise, but I will keep doing my best.
My favorite Christmas memory, or memories, is of the candle light Christmas Eve services at Alpharetta Presbyterian. We have the lights dimmed, candles lit and we all sing Christmas songs throughout the service. It is a wonderful way to spend time with family and remind yourself of the meaning of Christmas.
Cookies for Santa, stockings and the Elf on the Shelf have one thing in common children and Christmas. For my wife, Jane, and I, Christmas has become synonymous with Jesus' birth and those things that have related to our children through the years.
Our son Sean is a freshman at UGA, and Brittany is in middle school. Last Christmas was the first Christmas morning that we weren't all together. Sean had been invited to go on a Caribbean cruise with a good friend to celebrate their pending graduation from high school. Christmas morning came; the stockings were poured out, except one. The grandparents arrived and presents opened while our dogs relished in all the new smells, but some gifts remained waiting to be opened. There was also one less plate at the table for Christmas dinner.
Later that day, after all the food, cookies, pies, games and phone calls from relatives, our son arrived. I remember the sound of a car door in the driveway and how we eagerly gathered at the door. As he walked in, my heart was full and Christmas complete.
I realize now that one day Jane and I will quietly celebrate together, the house still and quiet. But for now, we are blessed to have our children and Christmas memories to make. God bless and have a Merry Christmas!
Growing up, Christmas Eve was probably my favorite day of the year. Actually, I think it still is. Every year, we did the same thing — up the mountain to my grandparents' house.
My grandparents had the biggest, fattest Christmas tree I've ever seen (with the exception of the Macy's tree, probably), covered top to bottom in decorations. You could barely see the green of the tree.
I always loved that the ornaments never matched. There was never a theme. It was just an eclectic bunch of elves, birds, balls, angels and lights.
My grandparents have since passed, but the ornaments now cover my husband's and my tree. We just need a bigger tree.
When my son (who is now 19) was 2, we had a Nativity set that I displayed on an end table in our living room. Like most Nativity sets, it had the baby in a manger, Mary and Joseph on either side, a shepherd and a lamb next to Mary, the three wise men and a camel next to Joseph. (This one had a little drummer boy too, but that's another story.)
We didn't spend much time in the living room, but it was a pass-through between the kitchen and the family room. Every time I walked through the living room, the figurines in the Nativity set had been moved. Instead of the nice display with the figures lined up as if on stage before an audience, they were in a circle with the manger in the middle. Each time, I patiently put them back in place. This little contest of wills went on for several days. Finally, I entered the living room just as my son was, again, rearranging my perfectly displayed Nativity set. I gently took the figurines from his hands and said, "No, Joshua, that's not how they go." As I started to replace them, Joshua said, "But Mommy, they all want to see the baby, Jesus!"
Needless to say, the Nativity set stayed in a circle from then on.
One of mine was Christmas/Hanukkah 1991. I was traveling for about one-and-a-half months. My first stop was Boston, Mass. I was staying with friends (two sisters). You have to understand that they, their dad and I (hate to brag) are all fabulous cooks. One night, we put together a holiday meal that would knock your socks off. My friends' dad makes the world's best potato latkes (traditional Hanukkah potato pancakes). He brought out the first platter of the things. I know, you're probably thinking "first platter?" He told me to help myself, there were plenty more where they came from. I started eating these discs of pure heaven, and before you know it, the platter was empty. My friends were barely able to keep straight faces. Their dad brought out Platter No. 2. You can guess the rest. And this was on top of the roast chicken and other fixins. After cleaning up from dinner, we all bundled up and went out driving to tour "the tackiest holiday displays." We got back to the house, I put on my PJ's and we settled down in the living room to watch some TV. A few hours passed, I then decided to go to bed. I started getting up but was so bloated from Dinner-Zilla, I literally could not lift my body off the couch! The three of them had to heave me up and it was no easy feat. We still laugh about it to this very day.
My favorite Christmas memory was when we got a tiny Santa Claus with a sled and reindeer to put on top of the church in our Christmas village.