2017-12-20 / News

Treasured memories

Memories of Christmas past return every year with the sights and sounds of the holidays. They sometimes surface unexpectedly, triggered by hearing a song or seeing Christmas decorations.

Christmas photos made me think of my grade school class nativity play and singing carols at our parish’s Christmas show. But the clearest memory of that show was of our church elder Phil Steiner singing “Old Man River” without any accompaniment.

I recall his voice booming through the auditorium and completely filling the hall without a microphone. The passion and emotion with which he sang of the river’s life and presence was something I’ll never forget.

I believe he had no formal musical training-it was sheer natural born talent. It was an inspiring experience like another musical Christmas memory of singing “Carol of the Bells” with my seventh grade class with all the entwining parts and harmonies exquisitely echoing like they only can in a church.

Our music teacher taught us how to sing in four to six part harmony-something for which I’m eternally grateful. I always enjoyed singing harmony on hymns at church services and while Christmas caroling around the neighborhood when I was a kid.

I still remember first learning to play Peter, Paul and Mary’s “A Soalin” as an instrumental in high school and what a challenge it was to add the vocals on top of that fancy finger-picking. It’s a great holiday song and another fond memory playing it with friends.

My holiday recollections aren’t just of music. Some home Christmas decorations and tree ornaments are decades old, but the memories that surround them are cherished.

There’s a tiny wind-up musical Christmas tree, a big floppy snowman, a hand-braided garland, a small ceramic handpainted rocking horse, holiday candles, a myriad of Christmas knickknacks and even an embroidered Christmas tree I made in eighth grade. Many are gifts from family members.

A lot of tree ornaments remind me of friends and loved ones-a sailboat for my dad who loved fishing and boating, a tiny gold fiddle for my grandfather who played the instrument and hand-made ornaments from family and friends. Ornaments I made from old Christmas cards bring back memories of those who sent them.

I’m thinking now of the duel Lionel train platform that Dad had around the Christmas tree with the little town and people, mountains, snow, lake and tunnel he created. Fond recollections abound of marathon cookie-baking, being Santa’s helper, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day gatherings with family and friends, Christmas performances, seeing the Nutcracker Ballet, watching special holiday movies and so much more.

Treasure the memories of Christmas past and present that you hold dear and make some new and special memories this year. Enjoy the season and look to the New Year for renewal and new possibilities.

Christmas is a time to be thankful for the people in our lives, the gifts we’ve been given and everything we have and have shared with others. On this Christmas may your cherished memories bring you joy, peace and comfort and may love and understanding fill the hearts of all.

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