Most of our Christmas memories come from our youth, probably because so many of them are centered on family. Midnight Mass, Christmas dinner, aunts and uncles and cousins, grandma’s favorite dish lovingly prepared and shared every year. For most of us our childhood was a time of unbridled joy, uncomplicated by the mysteries of adolescence or the responsibilities of adulthood.
There is a saying that “you can never go home.” Of course it is correct in the sense that inevitable changes in people and places and in us mean that special time is gone forever. Those happy and carefree times pull us back and we readily identify with the Christmas song that proclaims…”I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”
Yet those dreams, those joyful experiences shape our lives. Psychologists tell us that the greatest influence in our lives comes from our family of origin. Maybe it is true that we can never go home, but most of us try to replicate it in our lives. We put up the crib and hide the baby Jesus until Christmas. The Advent wreath comes out, and everything reminds us of happy stories we share with our own families.
A friend takes pride in the fact that his children can sing Adeste Fidelis in Latin…which he claims is the way it should always be sung. There are lots of popular new Christmas songs, but none measure up to Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High and Little Town of Bethlehem sung at Christmas Mass.
Thank God for St. Luke, he alone preserved the story of the stable at Bethlehem and the choirs of angels announcing the nativity to the shepherds. A visit to the cave in Bethlehem forever changed Christmas for me.
Christmas memories are never really gone. We may stow them away in a corner of our mind, but come Advent, they come out to gladden us once more and encourage us to work to make more new memories that our families and friends will cherish in years to come.
This Christmas a wish you all joy and hope and lots of happy memories.