Pete's December 1998 Article.

Wonderful Christmas Memories!” by Pete Bennett

Awe here we go again, back to a time when decency and common sense was the norm. You only need to hear the sound of sleigh bells to begin to recall the wonders of Christmases past.

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing the kind of flakes that fill the air so thick that only the occasional one that sticks to an eye lash awakens you to fact that it really is snowing. Carolers from the local church are strolling along the streets singing their hearts out while bundled in their Christmas finery. Cheeks and noses are rosy red. No one has television, so there is just no need for anyone to have to tell you that Santa just taken off from the North Pole and is headed our way. Yet, excitement is in the air! Sure doesn’t sound like the present does it? Nowadays the Christmas season starts at least three weeks before Halloween. Times were simpler back then because there were no Walmarts, I guess! A present day headline seasonal headline might read:

One Day Sale!

Peace, Goodwill Towards Men..

25% Off!

I agree with Charlie Brown “Christmas is just one big commercial”. Buy this, buy that. Christmas isn't a religious holiday so much as it is an excuse for stores to have sales. One of the Scandinavian countries had the right idea when they passed a law prohibiting the display of Christmas advertising until after December 6th. Now THERE'S a quality of life law. Unfortunately, I suppose that First Amendment thing would put a stop to that here.

It's often times hard to tell if Christmases past retain their simplicity just because they are just memories, but I don’t think so.

The appearance of Christmas today is a complex event for children, not simple like it once was. Back then it always started out with, “be good or you won't get anything, but a lump of coal in your stocking". And stocking it sometimes was. It doesn’t seem that there were the lavish gifts like those that are received today. Sometimes a stocking with an orange and some home made hard candy or peanut brittle in it, was all you got. Never were toy cars, stuffed animals or fashion accessories involved. Now, you say, I’m beginning to show my age, but times were hard back then. What little there was, really was, what little there was! There was no 70 million dollar surplus in those days. The stock market sure wasn’t peaking then.

Mom always made a fruit cake around Thanksgiving time. She always had to have a linen napkin to cover it, and she'd douse it with rum. Then it was put away and kept cool. She wouldn't cut it till Christmas day. How many times we’d raise that linen to smell and dream. Also there were Pumpkin and mincemeat pies to contend with and I think that the turkeys were smaller back then. I don’t remember many leftovers like nowadays! Do you remember the smells of Christmas? The pumpkin bread and butter cookies. The smell of an evergreen tree and baking ham mingled with Mom's perfume. She always checked that ham the minute we came in from church, even before she'd changed her clothes. Then, a couple days before the big day, not months like it is today, we would spend a whole day getting a tree and decorating it. The decorations were of the homemade type, like popcorn that we had strung ourselves or paper rings we had cut out and glued together. Mothers treasured ornaments were carefully added, then the star symbolizing that one that shown so brightly in ages past, would be placed there on the top and everyone would stand back and look from a vantage point across the room, to correct any item that might be hung wrong. Do you recall any of these things, as I do? Maybe I’m regressing.

Our Christmas gifts were often times things that we needed, like a new coat or hat, maybe some newly knitted mittens. Luxury items were not common. Home made things were the norm. But the most important idea behind a gift was the thought. Gifts were and are still supposed to be from the heart.

The weather in those days was definitely always more wintry. We always had a lot of snow for our Christmases, maybe that’s why Bing sang about it. You do remember “White Christmas, don’t you? How about “The Christmas Song”.. Chestnuts roasting in an open fire or “I’ll be home for Christmas”? I bet if I asked you , you could even tell me your favorite Christmas song or carol. It’s what your memories are made of!

Christmas and memories. What a wonderful combination. I think if it weren't so cold this would be my favorite time of the year. It’s a time when we can be joyous, share that Christmas Time feeling, and more importantly, express to the people in your life that mean a lot to you just how special they are.

Its not about what you give or what you get, its about that warm, fuzzy feeling you get that only comes around this time of the year. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Ever to do something really nice for someone without them asking you? Remember the feeling you got when they expressed their gratitude? Its almost like that.

Sometimes in this hectic world of ours, we forget what things really stand for. Its too easy to just go out and buy gifts and not put any thought or emotion into them. Its like playing the piano - you can go through the motions of playing the right keys and the song sounds like it should, but it would sound like a classical piece if you really put some emotion into it. Christmas is like that, you can go through the motions, but its just not the same today.

Christmas is a joyous time. Its a time to spend with friends and family. Its a time to be thankful for what you have. Its a time to share with everyone what is special to you.

I have always been a person who believed we should keep the religious aspects of Christmas alive by keeping Christ, right up front, in Christmas. The Gospel Story from St. Luke, it is my favorite. No matter how many times it is told it is still the most precious gift you can give, probably because it tells of the Most Precious gift mankind has ever received, Christ the Lord! So, please take the time to read my gift to you this Holiday Season.

The “Good News” from (Luke 2:1-14-English-KJV)

[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
[2] And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.
[3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
[4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David. [
5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
[6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
[8] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
[10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savoir, which is Christ the Lord.
[12] And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, [14] Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

May you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas, good health and happiness in the New Year...1999.

Yours Truly,

Pete Bennett


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