Monday , 23 April 2018

Christmas Memories: Snapshots of Christmas Past

TSB President and Founder Angie Bado shares a vivid holiday memory as part of our seasonal series.

During our weekly TSB staff meeting, discussed the concept of each of us writing about a memory from Christmas past. Sounded like a great idea at the time. However, now that I’m sitting poised over the keyboard waiting for inspiration to set in, I find myself swimming in a wave of memories that have come flooding into my consciousness, nearly drowning me in a sea of emotions. Tears have to be wiped away quickly before they drip into my keyboard. Where do I start – my own childhood, or the memories of the Christmases when my own children were young? 

I remember the Christmas that my oldest son, Matt, who was about seven at the time, gave me a small glass blue bird, exclaiming with evident pride that blue was his favorite color and he wanted to give me a “blue diamond”, but couldn’t afford that. I still have that tiny glass bird as part of a special collection – the value – as in the Master Card commercial – “priceless”.

There are ceramic ornaments that my daughter Megan and my youngest, Colin, painted with their own hands when they were in the early years of elementary school. They were so excited, with crys of “Mom, I made it myself,” when I opened their special gifts to me all those years ago and they still grace the Christmas tree each year.

I always planned to give each of my children all of the ornaments that they had made, or that I collected for them, through the years, however, I’ve noticed that each year when I think about doing so, I have such difficulty actually doing it. The funny thing is, I collected ornaments for each of them, but the reality is that they each have their own traditions (which is how it should be) and they may never even want those ornaments. Sigh….

As I think through so many memories of Christmases past, I remember the excitement and wonder I saw in the eyes of my children on Christmas mornings. I’m reminded of the times, that together, we selected a paper angel from the Angel Tree at the mall and shopped for gifts for a child who would not have had a Christmas otherwise. I recall their caring, giving hearts as we discussed what they thought the “angel child” would want for Christmas.

As I walked by Macy’s large store on Union Square in San Francisco this week, I noticed a huge sign over the store sporting the word “Believe.” The Macy’s “Believe” campaign donates $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every letter to Santa that is received. My brain went into tangent mode, which is so easy for me to do! When I saw this sign the connection for me, for some strange reason, was that Christmas is a time to believe in Santa, but also to believe in the good – that human nature is not all negative. Even though we are inundated with negative news so often, there are also many groups and individuals who do a lot of positive things for their neighbors and for their communities at large. I’m sure each of you can name people like this!

For me, one example occurred during the Christmas season of 1988. We were living in suburban Chicago with three young children, and with one of the three still in pre-school, getting the holiday shopping, along with all the baking, decorating, writing the annual Christmas letter and addressing all the cards to send to friends and family was tough to get done.

This particular year, I remember enlisting their dad to take charge of the kids one Saturday morning so I could run out to finish up the Christmas shopping. I made it through two stores at the local mall and went into JC Penney to grab a few more things. I paid for my purchases and walked out of the store, only to realize about ten minutes later, that I had set down my two other bags of purchases somewhere in JC Penney.

My heart sank. My guess was that I had somewhere around $300 worth of merchandise in the bags that I had left in the store. As I walked back to the store, I thought about all the time I had spent choosing the gifts that were in those bags and how many hours my husband had worked to make the money that I had spent on them. I felt disheartened and all positive thoughts of the “Christmas spirit” were mere specs of embers.

I walked up to the sales clerk at the desk and asked if anyone had turned in two large bags filled with purchases from another store. A large smile slowly crept across her lips. She said “I think I have them – someone found them and turned them in. Merry Christmas!”

I never knew who found the labors of my shopping morning, left unattended near some stack of merchandise in that JC Penney store on that Saturday. But I was filled with thanks and my Christmas spirit was renewed! Yes, good people do exist in our world!

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
From “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause”, By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897.

Merry Christmas,


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