EVERY YEAR, MEMORIES of childhood Christmases rush back.
And what I remember most from those past years are not the presents, of which there were not all that many in our poor southwestern Minnesota farm family.
Rather, I recall the short, tinsel-strewn Christmas tree that stood on the end of the Formica kitchen table in our tiny farmhouse.
I remember Ham Day, when the Vesta Commercial Club gave away hams and Santa gave brown paper bags of candy and treats to us kids. Marshmallow Santas, peanuts, an orange, a Red Delicious apple.
But mostly, I savor the memories of Christmas Eve services at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta. We Sunday School children filed into the packed sanctuary singing “O, come all ye faithful.”
We spoke our memorized pieces: “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;). ” I never wanted to recite that verse from Luke chapter 2 because it was too confusing with all of those towns to remember.
Alternating bible verses with songs, we told the Christmas story, sang, “Away in a manger,” “O little town of Bethlehem,” “Behold a branch is growing.”
The pastor preached and we Sunday School children fidgeted with the anticipation that only a child can feel at Christmas.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” one of us later proclaimed to the congregation.
And then, finally, we raced down the aisle sing-shouting “Joy to the world” as we clumped down the narrow basement steps to the church basement. Coats and boots. Men handing out goodie bags of hard ribbon candy and peanuts, an orange and a Red Delicious apple, and the sweetest of all, a Hershey bar.
Oh, sweet Christmas memories. May they be yours today as we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Saviour of the world, the reason for this day.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling