I experienced a very different Christmas when I was 9 years old. My Dad , Mom and I went to Holland in November of that year. My Opoe (dad’s mom) was not doing very well, experiencing kidney failure. Sinter Klaas, the fifth of December is Christmas in Holland. This is the day that family gathers in the evening to exchange little gifts. We also put our wooden shoes out the night before so they could be stuffed with candy and chocolates much as we do stockings. We were gathered at my Uncles house in the living room, all of a sudden the door opened slightly and someone who supposedly is Sinter Klaas threw candies and little cinnamon/ginger cookies called pepernootijies. I remember it scaring me and when those candies happen to hit your legs, it hurts!!! Of course all eyes were on me because it was all new to me. Big laughs when they saw the expressions on my face!! Anyway, little gifts were opened and we all had dinner together. That was the first surprise.In between Sinter Klaas and Christmas Day, we went to my Mom’s best friends house. They had children around the same age as myself so Oom Piet organized for Sinter Klaas and Black Peter to come to the their house. Black Peter was feared by all little children as he would take you away in his bag if you hadn’t been good!!! So, after dinner, the door bell rings and inside comes Sinter Klaas in his big robes and large hat and Black Peter in his funny costume. I was petrified my Mom said later. One by one the kids went up to see what was written in the big book!! I bit my nails at that time and there it was for everyone to see. Written in black ink, Lia Zandee bites her nails!!! I still remember what I was wearing. A tan coloured turtleneck, dark blue pleated skirt and tights to match the shirt. We had no colour pictures at the time, but what I wore is imprinted very vividly in my mind as well as the talking to from Sinter Klaas. He was gentle but firm. Still got a present and I didn’t go into Black Peters bag. Later I found out that it was their neighbours who had rented the costumes. My Oom Piet still laughs about that when we talk.
Christmas Day in Holland is a religious holiday and usually there is a family dinner. I remember Christmas morning getting some gifts from my parents and aunts and uncles because they knew that is what they did in Canada. I got 7 Barbie look-a-like dolls!! And my Mom’s Aunt who was in her early 80’s at the time knitted clothes for them. Then we went to my Uncle and Aunt’s house for dinner, I walked in the room and I don’t know who was more shocked, Mom or me. A Christmas tree with real lit candles!!! She kept an eye on that all night! She was sure it was going to catch on fire!! But it didn’t and it was lit every night until after New Years
New Years Eve was spent with my Dad’s side of the family. I had a cousin the same age as myself. All the adults were in the living room talking and my cousin and I decided to play with candles!! It was near the sink though, that is what saved us. As you can probably guess, we lit to many candles and fire started in the sink. My Uncle came quickly put it out and we were reprimanded and went to go outside to watch the fireworks.
A wonderful experience that I still remember very vividly! Merry Christimas!!
Christmas Eve supper finished, I assist Dad by carrying a kerosene lantern on one "special" round of care for our barnyard critters.
- A stillness in the bitterly cold night air, bright stars cover the sky.
- Footsteps crunch on the packed snow pathway to the barn.
- An extra ration of grain to the cattle, horses, hogs and chickens.
- Dad's long shadow from the lantern reflected in the snow.
- Back at the house Mother reads us the Christmas story, Luke 2.
- A scrawny little Aspen tree decorated with home made angels.
- Gifts piled under the "tree" ( can't open till morning)
- Christmas morning, gifts open, everyone laughing & singing.
- Mother has made eggnog, we have Japanese oranges.
Strong memories of a special time in a young boy's life while celebrating the birth of Christ, lasting for 70 years.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to our freinds at "Valley"
One Christmas Day, I was homeless and living in a motel with my dog. Every day I walked beside Okanagan Lake and God put an unknown song, music and words into my mind and heart about putting Jesus back into Christmas. During that time He gave me His peace as I have never experienced it before and I knew I was never alone nor unloved. The song left me when I didn't need them anymore; another gift from Him.
For those who are struggling this Christmas, pray for Gods peace, His love and His Presence. He's never let me down! Jesus gave us that assurance. Happy Birthday!
Stockings opened on waking up..morning at church with Mum and brother...lunch at local hotel where Dad met us..dinner and gift opening when Dad came home from work (he had to do inventory Christmas Day).
I don't have a lot of memories from my childhood years, nor about my dad, but I do remember one Christmas morning; I think I was 9 years old. As I came downstairs it was quiet and the lights on the tree were lit up; it was magical. Immediately I saw it, under the tree, and I knew it had to be for me.
Years later when our kids were young, I'd get up early and turn on all the Christmas lights and start a fire in the fireplace, re-creating that magical moment for our kids as they came down on Christmas morning! It was now part of our family tradition.
On Christmas morning the kids would open their socks, we'd have breakfast together, read the Christmas story and then open gifts...one at time! In some form we continute these traditons each year, sometimes including a Christmas Day service and more recently sometimes having to add Skype to the mix. These traditons become part of our memories and in all these things we are reminded that everything we enjoy in life is a gift from God. Ultimately on Christmas we remember the gift of His Son!