Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Memories

 I have a lot of memories of Christmas from over the years. As a child, I remember the many Christmas movies that would be broadcast on TV that time of year, as well as all of my favorite TV shows that had Christmas specials.

The Island of Misfit Toys from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
As a child, I remember watching the claymation movies, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (who could forget the Island of Misfit Toys?). Then there were Christmas specials for pretty much every children's franchise out there, from Garfield, to Disney, to the Muppets, to Garfield, to Alvin and the Chipmunks, to He-Man and She-Ra to Charlie Brown.

A Scene from Disney's "Mickey's Christmas Carol"
Then there were the family traditions. When I was younger, I had an uncle that was a forest ranger that would help arrange every year for those in the family to get permits to cut down an evergreen for Christmas. And after we no longer were able to do that, we would go out to one of the many vendors to buy a Christmas tree.

Memories of going into the mountains to find a Christmas Tree
There was also the family Christmas party that my grandparents hosted every year. When I was younger, Santa Claus would come, and we'd each have an opportunity to tell him what we wanted for Christmas. And there was also the gift exchanges with my cousins and just getting together to spend time as an extended family.

Santa Claus
And then there were also the Christmas Eve traditions. It became a family tradition to have soup and scones on Christmas Eve. We would also each receive a Christmas present from our parents, a Christmas ornament (mine were frequently related to Star Trek, Star Wars or superheroes), then my dad would read "The Night Before Christmas" to us and we'd leave cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa Claus before going to bed.

Reading "The Night Before Christmas" has long been one of my family's Christmas traditions
Many of these traditions have either morphed or been passed on to the next generation. My parents now host a family Christmas party every year. My brothers and sisters and I do a gift exchange, as do my nieces and nephews with each other. And although my dad no longer reads "The Night Before Christmas" now that all of the kids are grown up, I still spend the night at my parents' home on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas Day with my family.

But even with all of these traditions and memories, the ones that stick out are those that reminded us of the reason for the season. I remember ward Christmas parties that frequently had stories of the Nativity read or reenacted, as well the Christmas program in sacrament meeting every year (and as I got older, I would frequently participate in the ward choir for the Christmas program).

Mary and Joseph with the Christ Child
When I was a child, we had the Living Scriptures animated videos, and I remember watching the episode on the birth of Christ every year. As a family, we would visit Temple Square every year to see the Christmas lights, the life sized Nativity and the Christus.

The Christus Statue at Temple Square
And another family tradition that still persists is reading the account of Christ's birth in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.

Even though many of my memories around Christmas involve gifts and family, I have become aware that all of it ties back to Christ. We give gifts as a reminder of the gift of a Savior that our Heavenly Father sent to us with the birth of Jesus Christ. The time we spend with family is a reminder that because of Christ we have the opportunity to be with our families for eternity.

Jesus Christ
It is no secret that Christmas has become commercialized, particularly in recent years. I am grateful for the traditions that bring Christ back to Christmas, that remind us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

As we celebrate the birth of the Savior, all of us at Mormon Geeks would like to wish you a Merry Christmas!

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