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The Miracle of a Family - By Joyce E Bowling

There are so many things that I cherish about Christmas it is difficult to choose only one. When I think of Christmas I think of the traditional carols that we sing at church, shopping for my family, surprises, turkey, decorating, childhood memories, the list could go on-and-on making the choice even more difficult. As I reflect back upon the holidays that have gone by, I rediscover the joys of my youth and my family through the many wonderful memories that I have carefully tucked away in my mind. I recall being four years old and helping my mom, we were decorating dozens of sugar cookies. There were cookies shaped like Christmas trees, wreaths, and bells. I had the exciting job of putting sprinkles on the cookies, and in my mouth as well. The same year I remember Santa magically appearing at our house on Christmas eve, as I hugged him to thank him for my new red haired doll my green sucker became tangled in his white beard. He just laughed about it, while my mom tried to remove the sucker from his chin. I also remember just how much Santa resembled Mike, who was a close friend of our family. My mom always made a big fuss about Christmas. Our tree always seemed to be bigger than any of my cousin’s trees, and held more ornaments than I could count. There were silver bells, colored lights, Disney characters and garlands of cellophane wrapped fake candy that looked real enough to eat. She made pans of homemade caramel corn that would feed every child within a mile. Our house was always the first one in the neighborhood to cast a glow from the multi colored lights across the darkness of night. Mom always wished for snow on Christmas, but wanted it to disappear the next day. If her wish did not come true , she would spray fake snow on the windowpanes to help enhance the spirit of the season.Each year a different hiding place hid an abundance of gifts and mom’s hard work of trying to buy exactly what my brother Wayne, my sister Jackie and myself had asked for. And in turn each year we would discover her carefully sought out destination and we would then carefully unwrap the hidden treasures. Mom became wise to our yearly raids and began chauffeuring our presents in the trunk of her car until Christmas Eve. We didn’t always receive everything that we had originally asked for, but we did usually find at least one of the many items from our wish list beneath the tree. I discovered that Christmas was much more exciting if you did not know what secret treasures the wrapped boxes beneath the tree held. My memories of Christmas are much more than just receiving. I recall the year that I learned the spirit of giving. When I was five the Salvation Army came to our house collecting for less fortunate children, I recall feeling guilty because I had an abundance of toys while there were other children who didn’t even own a toy. I remember carrying my doll house down stairs and asking mom if I could donate it. She smiled and said it would be a fine donation. I missed my dollhouse a little, but I remember imagining a little girl somewhere else in the world finding it under her tree for Christmas and the feeling of loss quickly faded away.At the age of eight, I received the role of a nurse in our school play. The night of the play Mother Nature spread a blanket of snow over the ground causing me to wear the much dreaded rubber boots with my new white dress. Just before time for the curtain to go up, we realized that I had forgotten my white shoes at home. That night I performed my debut in white knee socks. My mom reassured me that no one was the wiser and she was right.Years have come and gone bringing many changes and new memories into my life. The wide-eyed innocence that I viewed the world with as a child is now replaced with visions that my own children dream of. I now hang silver bells on our tree, and share cookie baking with my daughter. I am the nervous parent sitting in the audience watching the Christmas plays year after year and I find myself hiding Christmas presents in the trunk of my car as well. Although many things have changed, some remain the same. Even though my brother and sister and myself are each married with our own families, we still enjoy going home for Christmas where mom still has the biggest tree, with the most ornaments and her Christmas village still consumes an entire end of her living room. Artificial snow often adorns the windowpanes and sweet aromas still fill the air. Mom still gets excited giving gifts that she has carefully chosen for each of us and we still get just as excited opening them.As I sit here with tears in my eyes reminiscing and browsing through the memories of years gone by, I realize that what I truly treasure the most about Christmas is the miracle of a loving family, past and present.  
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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