This year I am doing something a little different.  To all my friends and family, here is my Christmas letter to you…hope you enjoy.

It’s that wonderful time of year when children start to anticipate the arrival of Christmas and it is my wife’s favorite time of year.  In fact, my wife thoroughly enjoys this time of year so much that she wants a “Christmas” funeral when she departs this earth.  What I mean by a “Christmas” funeral is a decorated Christmas tree, a Christmas wreath for the coffin, and the playing and singing of Christmas carols, both at the funeral home and during the church service.  But, best of all, she would like everyone in attendance to exchange a small gift with each other as a sign of peace, goodwill, kindness, and most of all love, for each other.

She also plays Christmas music and watches all the sappy Christmas stories on the Lifetime channel.  Oh well, it’s only for a month.

While I sat here thinking about past Christmas days, I was struck by the fact that for many people Christmas is just not that important or meaningful as it used to be when we were kids.

So the following is some of the memories of Christmas’ in my past.  They are not in any significant importance, but rather in the order that they came to me.

My folks were poor, but that never stopped them from giving us 5 kids a wonderful Christmas and there was always plenty of treats to go around.  Rosettes covered in powder sugar, fudge made by dad with real Cocoa Powder, mom’s famous rum balls that sometimes had a little too much rum, stuffed dates, caramels, my all-time favorite powder sugar cookies, taffy, and plenty of assorted nuts, such as pecans, brazil nuts (we called them something else), almonds, walnuts, and hazel nuts.

Another fond memory was for the entire family to attend midnight mass that ended around 2:00 in the morning and my dad keeping track of how many times the Bishop would walk around with his staff or take his pointed hat off or on, our how many genuflections that he did during mass.  You have to understand that my dad was not a Catholic, so most of this was foreign to him, so he kept himself entertained by keeping track of certain things and then reporting about the results on the ride home.

After midnight mass, mom would have a ham prepared for ham sandwiches and other treats and then it was off to bed to await the arrival of Santa.  Yes, we got gifts from mom and dad and also Santa Claus.

Two gifts that stand out in my childhood were a red peddle tractor that I got when I was 5 or 6 and it was the absolute best present ever.  That was better than any plain tricycle and I loved riding it all over the neighborhood.

The second was a timex watch that I got when I was 9 or 10 and it said on the dial that it was shock resistant.  I was so proud of that watch.  The next day I showed it to my best friend and he said let me see your watch.  I took it off and handed it to him and as I did I mentioned that the watch was shock resistant.  So what did he do, but he throw it on the floor and of course it shattered into a thousand pieces and his response was, it’s not very shock resistant.  Needless to say, that was the end of my watch and my folks never gave me another one until graduation.

On Christmas day we all went to grandma’s and grandpa’s house for turkey and all the trims.  My aunt and uncle and their three kids would also be there and I do not know how we did it, with 6 adults and 8 kids in a very small house.  Oh, and let us not forget those wonderful times after Christmas dinner being forced to watch Lawrence Welk’s Christmas performance on TV.  Black and white no less.

Another memory was going with dad to buy a real Christmas tree and because he had limited funds, which meant that he usually bought his tree on the day just before Christmas, when everything was on sale.  On top of that, he would haggle with the tree lot guy for the best price.  Some years he did very well and other years, the trees looked pretty sad, but it was still a Christmas tree and we loved it.  Mom would always put the tree in a corner and place the barest section toward the corner and sometimes you had to balance it so that it would not fall over because it was so crooked, but we didn’t care because it was our Christmas tree.

The next memory was of stocking stuffed with candy and nuts, navel oranges, and boxes of life-savers.  Oh, I almost forgot the ever present candy canes.

My last fond memory is of the fake fireplace that my dad erected every year.  It was made of cardboard and painted to look like red bricks.  It also had a light that shown through a multi-covered wheel that rotated to make it look like real flames that were burning.  Hey, you do with, what you have.

So, as this Christmas season approaches, pause, take a moment and reminisce about Christmas’ in your past and remember just how very special those memories are to you and your loved ones.  Remember, memories are made every day, so start making some for you and yours, this Christmas season.

May God bless and may you all have peace on earth…from Bob & Carol.

P.S.  Please feel free to include some of your fondest memories of past Christmas’.