“Once upon a time” Christmas Memories

“They say Christmas is for children” one of the ladies from church shared that thought several years ago and I’ve thought about it often. There really is truth to that. Christmas time brings lots of excitement and suspense and creates memories that carry on through out a lifetime.

But as an adult- I’m pretty sure Christmas is for me too 🙂 In a lot of ways- the excitement and suspense and memory creating is still there- yet with a different understanding. A much better understanding of the incredible sacrifice of the best gift ever given- when Christ gave up everything to come to earth to live and die- for me…

Thanks to all of you who had memories to share! 🙂 As I read over them- I noticed something common. I saw a quote recently that fit perfectly ” Always remember: the greatest gift you’ll ever own is not found in the shops or under your Christmas tree. It is found in the hearts of your family and friends.” It is the people who have been placed in our lives that truly make special times spectacular.


One Christmas when my sister and I were teenagers, we came up with a brilliant plan! We decided to surprise our family with a Christmas tree!  We stayed up late at night creating ornaments–stringing popcorn, cranberries, and oatmeal cookies.  We stored the berries on the porch roof outside our bedroom window where they stayed frozen.  Our older sister supplied us with a string of lights, and on Christmas Eve, our brother went to the woods and harvested the “perfect” tree.  Natural-grown trees are quite thin and really don’t look that great, but we didn’t care. He hid the tree in the shop, and we were ready to go!  That night we set our alarms for 2 a.m. and crept outside into the snow to drag in the tree. After much muffled laughter and a few loud thumps, we finally had it standing.  The tree was a bit taller than we had expected, so we were glad we had the staircase nearby to help us reach the top! Everything went well at first, until we realized our melting cranberries were dripping  on the carpet!  We laid towels on the floor and covered them with a “tree skirt” (a.k.a. a blanket). Next we added our beautiful string of lights. Alas, it didn’t even come close to going all the way around the tree! We finished our decorating and went back to bed.  The tree was discovered around 5:30 when Dad got up to put wood in the stove. We all got a big laugh out of it, and after enjoying it for the day, we disposed of the tree.        ~The two sisters

I guess at the top of my list of Christmas’s I remember is the one where I had to go to work. I had a car then that did not like the rain. It was raining that morning and I went through a water puddle too fast. At the end of the lane the car stopped. I walked to a neighbor who was awake wrapping gifts. I was taking cookies to work to share and with all the excitement the cookies were damaged. The cleaning lady had told me earlier I owe her a cookie for every time I stepped on her wet floors. That morning she got them. I was not feeling very cheery when I got to work but the more I said “Merry Christmas” the happier I felt. -Ellen Horst


I enjoy carrying on one of my mother’s traditions: making Cranberry Tea. My nine-year old son enjoys juicing the oranges and lemons while the cranberries steam with a cinnamon stick. Sometimes I take the tea to friends or neighbors who are not feeling well because Christmas is no time to be sick! – Enid Dunbar

“I remember my father crying as he read the Christmas story.”-Valerie Diefebacher

I remember when we were young, a bus load of us would go 45 minutes to Yarrowsburg and stand outside in the snow to sing, then come home and go to Mercersburg Academy for the 12 o’clock chimes. The people we were with made it fun. – Martha Ann Strite

I remember my mother could never wait till Christmas morning for us to open our gifts. So when school vacation started we’d open our Christmas presents. We’d tease my mother about that when we were older. We always had church on Christmas morning. Martha Ann’s post reminded me of the Christmas that my friend Debbie Showalter’s family invited me to go to Florida with them on Christmas. I had never been off the farm, so it was very exciting! I got home from caroling and the chimes and packed to leave for Florida Christmas morning. We rode in the pull behind camper. Camped in Sun and Fun camp ground. Made good memories. – Thelma Martin

IMG_1151 The first few snowflakes were making their leisure decent to the earth and hit our windshield as we headed out the lane, for Christmas supper with Father’s Maryland family. Looking at the forecast- we wondered if it was smart to even attempt the trip- but it’d been a year since we’d seen most of our family- plus it was extra special that Rhonda, Nzivo and their family were around from Kenya- so we drove out the lane with faith.The food and fellowship was wonderful. Someone brought Grandmother down from the nursing home and Emily wrote a special Christmas addition to “Let it snow, Let it snow..” Something about “to Kenya they have to go- God bless Nzivo, bless Nzivo, bless Nzivo..” Good ol family time.And while we attempted to appear at leisure- we kept a careful eye peeled for the impending snowstorm- that was tracking us from the south. All too soon- those monstrous flakes started again and my parents felt the need to start the trek to our beautiful southland.   We were fine for the first hour- then the road became completely snow-covered and Father piloted our minivan with a steady hand. It was gorgeous!! There’s something thrilling about traveling through the snow.. Sleepiness fled as we started counting motorists in ditch (and like the priest and the Levite- we passed by on the other side) 29 of them to be exact. Our minivan plowed faithfully on. We started the final assent up into Paradise Mountain, and the snow was so deep by now- it was caught by our bumper and pushed up on the windshield making visibility near 0%- but Father kept the hammer down- we were on home stretch. Down the lane we rocketed, and as we slowed down to take the corner towards our garage- there we sat. Couldn’t go another inch. So with feelings of great relief and mirth, we plunged the last few feet through the snow. “God sure must have a sense of humor- to bring us safely 120 miles and allow us to get stuck 100 feet from the garage!!” -Julia Showalter

The excitement level at Dayton Elementary School was through the roof. Hours had been put into practice for the performance of the “Nutcracker” and show time was the week before Christmas. Monday before Christmas- snow. No School. Tues before Christmas- snow. No School. Wednesday before Christmas- the children are no longer singing “Let it Snow, Let it snow”. Snow day. School canceled. Thursday before Christmas- snow, No School. Friday before Christmas “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” and that is reality.. snow. No school…And so the Nutcracker, as well as all the Christmas parties waited until the middle of January, but somehow the magic of Christmas was missing. -Joyce Horst  P.S from the editor: It so happened that my mom landed the job of narrator for this play. And it meant a lot to her when my Grandma hitched up the horse and buggy and drove into town to be in attendance for the event. 🙂

Brent was in the hospital again for the second Christmas in a row. His journey of cancer and a bone marrow transplant had been full of peaks and valleys, and so this Christmas found my sister’s taxi services once again being solicited.  Since he was at a University Hospital only an hour from our home, We agreed to forfeit Christmas Day and join Brent’s family for the day. Kendra and I have spent hours and hours singing together, so- in effort to give Brent’s family some space- we asked the charge nurse if it were possible that we could go caroling there on the children’s floor. It certainly was- and soon we were being ushered from room to room- attempting to spread a little bit of cheer- duet style. “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright” The little blonde haired boy had just been diagnosed with leukemia two weeks before Christmas and his mother found herself singing that carol to her sick little man often… “What Child is This who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping” The little Spanish baby peered at us solemnly… I couldn’t help wonder what her story was…Eventually we were directed to the adult ward. The one man had in a trachea but he wrote a request “Joy to the World, the Lord is come” and he smiled through his pain. “Oh beautiful Star of Bethlehem Shining afar through shadows dim”  The patient tried to move, but winced “that is beautiful- I’ve never heard that song before” On and On we went- caroling for almost 3 hours- a teenager with head injuries, a very disoriented Indian man… And as we sang- the true meaning of Christmas became real to us.  -Emily Horst


So wherever Life finds you this Christmas Eve- take the time to look around you- at all the people who have been specifically placed in your life- right now. And appreciate the time together and the memories being created- because tomorrow holds no promise. And join me in realizing the BEST GIFT ever given- was love. And that is a tradition- we are all asked to continue… God bless us, everyone! Merry Christmas, Kendra


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