The Holiday I’ll Never Forget
The sound of “silver bells” never sounded more beautiful, the fresh taste of peppermint never sweeter, the lingering smell of pine never so relaxing, especially at such a wonderful time of the year. Now, hot chocolate in hand, take a read at the stories of your classmates and teachers—the funny, shocking, joyful, amazing, dramatic, and the heartwarming, told in their perspective, of some previous holiday experiences. –Alexandra Gomez
Curiosity Killed the Cat by Amber Miller
It was Christmas Eve, ten years ago. I was five years old and very excited about Santa Claus coming the next day. The house smelled like fresh baked cookies and cake, and there was the usual hubbub, the swirl of holiday details in the house with all my family there. And then, my grandpa came over and called me to him, saying, “Amber, do you want to know the truth about Christmas?”
Never in my life to be at a loss for words, I said: “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” and got closer to my grandpa’s knee, expecting to hear a magical story. He pushed forward in the rocking chair and whispered, “Santa is not real.”
His words stopped everything that moved, and for the first time in my five years of life, my mouth flew open and stayed like that for what seemed like a year. In a millisecond my dreams were crushed. I didn’t understand. How could this be? I remembered the previous year, placing the cake and cookies with M&M’s on a plate made just for Santa. I saw them gone the next morning! How could that happen?
“Your parents ate the cookies and the cake, and drank the milk,” my grandpa explained. Now, my grandpa wasn’t a mean old man, or anything like that, he just didn’t believe in Santa Claus. He also didn’t believe in telling tales, especially around Christmas time, that wasn’t about Baby Jesus.
So, not wanting to believe what I knew in my heart was real, I went to my parents and asked them, “Really? You did this?”
“Well, yes, we did,” they confessed feeling sorry for me, and a tad mad with my grandpa. “We took turns every year eating the cake,” added my Mom, who smiled sheepishly as she looked over at my Dad. I guess neither expected to reveal their secret to me for another few years. But, the cat was out of the bag.
I’ve always been curious about things, but I’m sure I didn’t want to know that! I don’t remember much more about that day, but I probably cried at some point, and then went to bed. The next morning we continued the tradition of gift-giving to celebrate the birth of Jesus. There were presents under the Christmas tree and I ran to see what I got.
So, curiosity killed the cat. No big deal. Some kids would have been traumatized by my adventure, but oh, no, not I. Every Christmas Eve, I just recall the story of when my grandpa told me about the truth of Santa Claus. The memory is as clear today as it was then.
The Attack of the Christmas Roaches by Connor Walcott
It was Christmas of 2004, and my Mom’s 40th birthday. To make this holiday memorable, my Dad decided to take my mom, my little brother and I camping. My Dad and I had visited the campsite towards the beginning of the year and had had a wonderful time. The trees were beautiful and the scenery was wonderful. Unbeknownst to us, a hurricane had touched down near the campsite several months before our Christmas trip, leaving a little surprise for us, would-be campers. When we arrived at the campsite, to our horror, we found that the hurricane had destroyed every single tree, leaving only scattered twigs where huge trees had once stood.
The campsite had been converted into a temporary trailer park for people whose homes had been destroyed by the hurricane. Since our reserved campsite had a trailer sitting on it, we were given a new spot: an empty concrete slab. As if things weren’t bad enough, it started pouring rain. My Dad attempted to set up our tent on the concrete, but, as he braved the downpour and the gale force winds (with the rest of us staring at him from the relative comfort of the family van), he reluctantly admitted defeat.
We drove around until we found a motel. We checked in, unloaded our bags and then got some very disgusting take-out food for dinner. Despite a mix-up with our order, we were determined to make the best of things. We went back to our room and watched the movie, “Home Alone.” After a long day filled with disappointments and horrendous weather, we were glad to have something nice to do for a change. Things were starting to look a little better…that is, until we found out that we weren’t the only ones staying in the room.
You see, people whose houses had been destroyed by the hurricane were not only at the campsite, they were also staying in the motel. Those people brought food with them…and the food attracted some unwelcomed visitors.
The movie ended, we turned the lights back on and one by one, cockroaches of all sizes started to appear everywhere. At first, it seemed like there was only one or two. Those were dealt with swiftly and violently. However, after crushing the fourth roach, my Dad confessed that earlier, he had found a dead roach in the shower and a live one behind the toilet. He hadn’t said anything because he didn’t want to upset my Mom on this already upsetting day. Needless to say, we quickly gathered our things, got a refund and left the motel. We were able to get a room at another hotel that, thankfully, didn’t have surprise visitors of any kind.
Even though the trip was kind of a bummer, it wasn’t a complete waste. We got to spend quality roach-killin’ time together as a family. I can actually look back fondly, albeit squeamishly, on that trip: the trip that will always be known as…The Attack of the Christmas Roaches!
Small Packages by CCA Parent
In my family we used to make lists of what we wanted for Christmas, wish lists that hung on the refrigerator door for several months in advance, and had to include a range of things so that the kids could also participate in the purchase and wrapping.
The Christmas I turned nine I really wanted a watch. I listed it several times, amongst the other items of lesser import and price, and which I included only because that was the rule. All I really wanted was a watch. Where I grew up, getting a watch was a big deal. You couldn’t just go to Wal-Mart and buy a cheap watch – we didn’t have places like that, and my family didn’t have a lot of money, with four kids on the single salary of a college lecturer. Even with a birthday in December that could be ‘combined’ with Christmas, I knew a watch was going to be a stretch at best, and was highly unlikely. I didn’t even dare hope for it!
Our family used to place pillowcases under the tree. This was to keep the presents a closely-guarded secret and hence build the surprise value until the big day. In hindsight, though, I think it was to minimize the jealousies that inevitably arose amongst four children, inclined as we were to establish our expectations based on the sizes and quantity of the others’ gifts. Traditionally on Christmas, we opened gifts after church over mince pies, shortbread, nuts in their shells, and hot tea.
As a consolation (and probably so that we wouldn’t be too distracted during church) we were allowed to open one present before we went to church. But only one, and my dad picked out which one—of course, because he was one of two who knew what was in each pillowcase. We didn’t like the fact that he would pick the present, but it was either that or nothing until tea, so we went with it.
That Christmas morning, as we gathered in high excitement before church, I was quite chagrined when Dad placed an exceedingly small gift in my hand. I think he could see my disappointment, and I will never forget the expression on his face as he looked me in the eye, wordlessly conveying the message “trust me, this is the one you want to open, now, before we leave.”
Grudgingly and with extraordinarily low expectations, I accepted this one small gift before Christmas service and went to unwrap it in a corner chair. I prized open the lid of the cardboard jewelry box to see, lying in yellow cotton, the most beautiful Oris wristwatch, with tiny diamonds all around its face, winking up at me from beneath the glass. My world went quiet as I put it on my wrist, and held out my arm to admire it.
All through church I kept looking at my watch. Not to see the time, but just to admire it. At some point Mom whispered in my ear, “You see? The best gifts come in the smallest packages.”
The Gift by Kim Diaco, CCA Parent
There are many Christmas that we can always remember, but there is one that stands out in my mind. It was the Christmas of 2009.
In June of that year, our family experienced an extremely hard time. We had lost my brother suddenly to a very tragic situation, and two weeks later we lost my mother-in-law who suffered from cancer and been diagnosed only six weeks prior.
This was not the year for our family to do any type of celebrating during the holidays. This was most definitely going to be the hardest time for our family, and not just the adults, but for our kids as well. We used to spend our Christmas Eve’s at my mother-in-laws, where the kids would anxiously await the mounds of gifts Nana and Papa had for them. Well, this year was going to be a lot different.
As we gathered for Christmas Eve, we began our journey of starting a new tradition. The mounds of gifts are no longer awaiting, but what is still waiting is the love and time spent with family. Regardless of the storms we may go through, there is always reason to celebrate our Lord, especially His birth!
We realized, that while we were here on earth celebrating Jesus’ birth together, our loved ones were on the other side of Heaven’s gates, celebrating with Jesus and His angels. That by far is the best Christmas gift we received; the reassurance of knowing Him personally, and the comfort of one day being with Him.
Times Are Changing by a CCA Parent
My sister to my niece: “Drea, do you want to call Santa?”
My niece: “No.”
Me to my niece: “Why not?”
My niece: “ Because I already E-mailed the list to my Grammie!”
“Burst!” by Ceri Usmar
This one was handed down by my parents and it is, apparently, quite true. When I was three, we had Christmas at my grandparents’ house. My grandfather was a Baptist minister whose adoration of yours truly was exceeded only by mine for him. After our monstrous Christmas dinner, I went and cuddled up on his lap, which was something we used to do after meals and before bedtime.
After a while, Grandad said, “Mmmmm, I feel so full after eating Ceri for dinner.” A bit puzzled, I looked up at him and said, “No, you didn’t!”
“Oh yes,” he said, “She was so yummy, and I feel so full!”
“No,” I asserted, “You did not eat Ceri for dinner, Grandad, I am right here, look!” and I turned his face to look right into mine.
“Oh, but I did, and that’s why I feel so full,” Grandad said again.“Well,” I said, still pulling his face right up to mine, “If that’s true, then BURST!”
I suppose somewhere along the line I had heard the phrase, “I’m so full I could burst”!
Christmas–My Family’s Favorite Time of Year by Anna Maria Burnside
Many years ago, when I was still living with my parents, we used to celebrate Christmas—the birthday of Jesus Christ our God—in a big way. For our family, it was, and still is, the most important and especial time of the year.
My Mom would make delicious Italian cookies, pastries, and hayacas Venezolanas. I would help her in the kitchen all day along, cooking, stuffing, backing cookies, and having a special time together. My brothers and I would paint the house to make it look fresh and clean for this occasion, then we would decorate it with Christmas lights and build our Christmas tree to make it look beautiful. We even made our own nativity with newspaper, building the mountains carefully, painting them, and then placing the little animals and mini people all around.
The nativity was the last touch, which we placed on top of the mountain with lights and fake snow. We enjoyed so much spending time together. My father would bring panetones (bread filled with chocolates and fruits)—my favorite dessert from a nearby Italian shop.
A typical Spanish tradition is to celebrate Nochebuena on Christmas Eve. And on that day, my entire family would get together at my oldest brother’s house, where everyone would bring something—from sweet ham, pork, hayacas, to potato salad, cookies, cake, and and other delicious homemade goodies.
Christmas music was played all day long, as we enjoyed each other’s company. All the Christmas gifts were placed under my brother’s Christmas tree, and sometimes we couldn’t fit them all—there were so many presents! At dinnertime, we would set two tables for dinner, one for the adults, and one for the kids. The ladies usually served the food, while the men and kids sat at the tables, waiting to be served. When everyone was served, we would pray, thanking our Lord Jesus for our wonderful family—for the joy, love, and happiness it brought to our lives. Being all together was a gift, and we were all very thankful for that.
After eating dinner, we would dance, chat, and make jokes until midnight, when we would open the gifts. Our tradition was to sit around the tree, and call the names on the gifts, one by one, until everybody had theirs in their hands. Then, we all opened them at the same time. We would go around thanking each other for the gifts we received from that person, hugging them, and wishing them Merry Christmas.
The noise in the house was awesome. There was so much of it! From the adults’ laughter to the kids’ noisy toys, like the trains and musical instruments. But the night wasn’t over. My family and I would go around our neighborhood, wishing a Merry Christmas to all the neighbors, as the kids played in the streets until it was time to go home.
These were the most precious moments of my life, and I will never forget them.