However, Christmas was and is important because of the reason for the season. It’s the day that is set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Now I realize that not everyone believes in God. And as a Christian, I must respect their right to believe as they wish. For if you believe, you also believe that even God doesn’t push himself on anyone.
At the same time, you will not hear me apologizing for my beliefs. Because they are exactly that, mine.
As a child, the seasons really kick-started with play practice at Chalcedonia Baptist Church. During those days it was common for the play to be about the birth of Christ. The play consisted of kids and adults. It was an emotional time.
After the play was finished and the prayers were prayed, the kids waited in anticipation for a visit from Santa. Gifts were passed out to young and old. And, looking back, no one was in a hurry to leave and go home. I guess one reason was that we didn’t have the Internet or other electronic devices to go home to.
We were with friends and family. That is what mattered.
We knew the big day was drawing closer when school let out for Christmas holidays. I believe you will find most school systems now refer to this two-week period as Holiday Break. I feel sure the reason for this is that someone was offended by the use of Christ’ name in a holiday. But again I must say, that is the right of every individual.
I have been told of businesses that tell their employees to say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas” so not to offend anyone. As for me, I think I will just continue to say “Merry Christmas” because those words have never left my lips with the intent to upset a person.
However, if someone told me they were offended, I would respect their position and refrain from saying anything to them about the holiday.
Christmas Eve we were off to Granny and Granddaddy Free’s for food and fun. There are a lot of folks on that side of the family. I can remember Granny making gifts for us kids because there was too many to buy for. It didn’t matter. The love that went along with those gifts meant more than anything money could buy.
Then it was off to home and in to bed early so Santa could come. I remember listening for his arrival until I fell asleep. I did this even as I got older. You know what? I still do. And although I wasn’t a good kid, there were always gifts under the tree. It was always more than I deserved.
Christmas Day was off to the home of Granny and Granddaddy Collett. They had a much smaller family and therefore were able to spend more for gifts. It didn’t matter. The love those gifts were bought with far outweighed the gifts themselves. Every year, Uncle Harrison would get up early to fry country ham for the meal. I miss that.
After my grandparents passed away, the Free family continued the tradition of the family gathering on Christmas Eve. The Collett family sometimes would gather but not as regularly.
I have to admit that I normally don’t take part in those gatherings. It’s not that I don’t love my family, because I do. It’s not that I think I am better than them, because I don’t. In reality, they have all surpassed me in being a good husband, father or son. They are good people. They know how to give love and receive it. I struggle with both. The fact is that I just have a hard time letting go of the past and embracing the present.
At this point in my life, I spend a lot of time alone. My mama and daughter Lindsey worry about that. I wish they wouldn’t.
The truth is that I have been blessed with everything I need. If my daughter has a merry Christmas, then so will I.
Because if you have God, children, and wonderful memories, then you are never really alone. I am blessed with having them all.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.