Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Traditions Warm the Heart by Betty Jo Schuler

     Christmas Eve, late at night, my husband Paul and I pour a glass of
wine, sit on the floor by our fragrant long-needled pine, the room lit
only by the tree's soft lights, and exchange gift-wrapped boxes
containing ornaments we bought one another.  This tradition began
twenty-five years ago, the year we met, when he gave me a breathtaking
bauble—a clear glass pear-shaped ornament containing a partridge and a
pear tree.  Every Christmas Eve since, we've exchanged ornaments in a
special moment of quiet, peace, and love.  A Candlelight Service at our
church, early in the evening, followed by family gift-giving at my
mother's, sets the tone for this special night.

     Our Christmas tree, cut from the forest days earlier, is decked
with love and memories, and on this particular night, we reminisce.
There's a tiny red-and-white striped stocking, yellowed over the years,
that I bought the year my first son was born.  (Paul wasn't a part of my
life then; we married when my youngest son was in high school, but they
are like his own and he's a beloved stepfather.)  A "God's Eye" made of
Popsicle sticks woven with yarn nestles in the branches, a gift made by
our first grandson, his initials on the back, written in crayon.
Picture-frame ornaments with photos of other grandchildren, when they
were small, evoke tender memories.  A smiling ice cream cone, a gift
from my daughter and her husband, marks the sale of my first published
children's book, Ice Cream for Breakfast.  A china bell with shamrocks,
brought from Ireland, and a gold cross from Rome, are mementos from my
youngest son and his wife's travels.  Paul's and my trips are noted too,
and there are decorations given to us by his brother and sister, and
mine, and my favorite cousin.  Beaded candy canes and wreaths were made
by an aunt that's deceased.     And the lights that bubble around the
bottom of our Christmas tree were purchased only a few years ago, but
reminders of Paul's childhood, they still intrigue little ones. The
quilted tree skirt, hidden by piles of gifts before our family opening,
bears a large green S on a background of red and white—a treasured gift
made by our daughter-in-law.  Our middle son and his wife gave us
appropriate ornaments for our interests, a golf club for my husband and
a book for me.

     The day we take our ornaments, some shimmering, some dulled by the
years, from their boxes, is a special one at our house.  Most of the
boxes are labeled with the date, and a description, but others are
labeled in our minds.  And each year on the night before Christmas, we

Merriest Christmas Ever by Betty Jo Schuler