Christmas time is full of memories and opportunities to make new memories. In my childhood family we had a lot of Christmas traditions, some we picked up in various countries, some from my parents childhood and others that my brother and I made up.
Many of my favorite memories of childhood revolve around the Christmas holidays. I don’t necessarily remember the gifts that I received, but instead the time we spent together. What I do remember about the gifts was the anticipation and mystery of what was hidden in the colorfully wrapped presents under the lovingly decorated tree.
My brother and I would rehearse Christmas morning over and over again. We had scenario’s worked out for every variable including who might wake up first and what possible gifts were under the tree from Santa. We literally did Christmas morning rehearsal of the various scenarios for many days leading up to Christmas morning. Most of them started with me waking up first, taking my cat Puffy to Kevin’s room to wake him up, then me riding on Kevin’s back out the living room and acting with great shock and awe at all the amazing gifts Santa left under the tree.
On Christmas Eve day we always went for walks or drives, depending on where we lived at the time, to look at decorations, admire the scenery and just enjoy each other’s company. One year after my brother and I had become grown up and my parents still lived in Germany we went for our customary drive through small German villages. It was a picturesque day with snow gently falling onto one snow covered village after another. I had come home with my son Keegan and my brother had come home with his new wife Yihung.
We stopped in a small village and gave ourselves a self-guided tour through the local Catholic Church. Yihung was not familiar with Catholic rituals and so we were explaining all the symbolism and parts of the church. When we came upon the ornate confessional Yihung asked what it was. Instead of explaining it to her I decided to show her how the confessional worked, after all we had the entire church to ourselves. She stepped into the parishioner’s side and I stepped into the priest’s side of the confessional. I felt you really couldn’t understand the whole experience of going to confession unless you sat in the seat, experienced the window sliding open from the priest side and got a run through example of what both sides would say.
When we were done Yihung exited the confessional and I slide the window between us shut and got up to leave, only I the priest side of the confessional was locked and I was locked in! I giggled, pried and pushed hard against the door with no luck. I could hear my family outside the door busting up with laughter. Evidently the priest side was locked, but not closed properly when I entered and pulled the door behind me closed. I was envisioning my family having to go find the local priest to get me out of the confessional and the walk of shame I would have had to make past him. My family overtaken with laughter and it took what felt like an eternity for them to pull themselves together enough to help free me from the dark confessional.
Finally one of them gathered their wits enough to figure out how to open the door from the outside and I was free. We all spilled out of the church with resounding laughter. The kind of laughter you never forget.
Memories of laughter, time together, traditions and mischief is what I hope to leave behind for my children. I love the joy they have as they discover what was wrapped under the tree, but I know they won’t remember the gifts as much as they will remember the entirety of the Christmas experience as a family.
Have a blessed Christmas filled with memory making moments.