My parents and grandparents have been gone for decades, but it is amazing how the Christmases of my childhood have stuck.
Gram, my maternal grandmother, was a professional seamstress. Christmas gifts from her were a winter’s supply of flannel nightgowns, or men’s briefs she mischievously decorated with zigzag hearts. I remember her laughter when my father opened his. Every year he was a little embarrassed. Every year his mother-in-law enjoyed her little joke at his expense.
I remember their laughter and conviviality. It has stuck with me all these years.
My Aunt Bon, Gram’s daughter, had a glamorous side. She loved the holidays and showered her love on us by gifting us with Christmas trees . . . but not just ordinary trees. They were blue or white flocked ones, even a metal one that rotated in projected lights. We were fashion forward for our times!
I remember the extravagant deck-the-halls beauty and fa-la-la love she brought our family. Every family needs an Aunt Bon.
Our father was a church Minister of Music and a college voice professor. This meant our front door was a magnet for musicians. During the Christmas season, choir members and college students dropped by to carol for us. Some nights I drifted to sleep with the sound of my parent’s friends singing around the piano downstairs.
Joy to the World . . . Silent Night . . . Away in a Manger.
I remember the comfort of those ancient carols that cradle the world with hope. Their voices wafted up to the bedroom I shared with my younger brother. I have never since heard them rendered as sweetly.
So here is my confession: The world seems like a dark place this Christmas, not at all like the Christmases of my childhood memories. Daily we cope with sickening videos of police brutality coming at us in unending waves on the nightly news. Global terrorism’s evil is ever closer to home. Anger is the bedrock of our political discourse. Fear has closed our hearts to the “huddled masses longing to be free.”
And into this confusion enter my precious grandchildren—five of the dearest humans in the world to me.
I wish I could change the world they are inheriting. If possible, I would put a bubble around them and shield them from harm. Really, I would. Their Christmas presents are waiting for them, but I’m aware I offer them in hopes of brightening the world for a day, like frosting on a burnt cake.
They will forget these presents no doubt. But I hope some things stick from the Christmases of their childhoods. I hope they will receive a legacy from me. I want them to remember the courage their grandparents’ Christian faith took in these dark days. Let them remember our laughter in the face of evil. Let them recall how we celebrated family and refocused our lives from despair to hope in remembrance of our Savior’s birth. May they know we never lost sight of God’s good intentions for our ever-hurting world.
So grandparents . . .
Bring on the carols and refuse to let fear muffle our joy!
Gather together in sweet bonds of family and friendship!
Fa-la-la and deck-the-halls in defiance of the hatred in the world that would destroy all that is beautiful!
Proclaim faith to your little ones and by so doing shatter the darkness surrounding us with a million points of lights shining from homes of Christian faith this Christmas.
Like our parents before us, who also lived in a world of unthinkable evil, let us be sure in faith, unwavering in hope, trusting in God enough to have exceedingly great joy this Christmas season.
Your grandchildren are equally dear to you, I know. Leave them a faith legacy. It is the gift that lasts their lifetimes.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to me
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
To read more practical and inspiring thoughts on grandparents and grandchildren at Christmas, please follow the following links by my friends and founding members of the Legacy Coalition--Grandparenting that Matters movement.