By Jane Thornton
I was on a mission. With a scrapbook assignment and a deadline, I had no time for nostalgia or reminiscence. But when I flipped a page, both swamped me.
My dad was a marine. Just that label encompasses so many of his strongest images: sternness, authority, integrity, high expectations. Throw in a little temper, and sometimes those severe impressions overwhelm the memories of light-hearted teasing and laughter which were also sprinkled throughout my childhood.
Turning that leaf in the album revealed a treasured memory.
Daddy, gray-haired now, sat on carpeted stairs as un-marine-like as one can get. Bright green pants paired with a Christmas red shirt announced the season. Surely these garments could only be purchased in a golf shop – although I only knew of him playing the game a couple of times in all my life. His capable hand cradled an open Bible. By his side snuggled my daughter, swallowed by a red and white plaid, flannel nightie. Her round, three-year-old cheek turned in profile while she propped her chin on Dadum’s knee. A few steps down, her cousin sprawled in pajamas and looked up to listen.
With the image, I can clearly hear the echo of my son’s voice. The clamor and frenzy of raiding stockings had faded. Occasional calls of “Oh, yummy!” or “Hey, who gave me this?” bounced around the room. Matt bounded across the room to grab my attention with his piping appeal. “Presents after Two Luke, right Mommy?”
Unlike many, this cherished tradition has a clear beginning. We did not grow up incorporating scripture into our Christmas morning. I was in college when my mother made a conscious effort to develop a new custom to add meaning to the holiday. At that time my grandfather, the oldest man present, read the second chapter of the gospel of Luke aloud, and the whole crew settled and thanked God for this ultimate gift before diving into the material abundance around us.
As I forced myself to turn the page, wistful tears filmed my eyes. Gratitude filled my heart for a mom that knew it’s never too late. Traditions don’t have to originate long ago; new generations can find joy in old rituals—and create it with new ones. Those precious memories will echo through the years and be renewed each holiday season, proclaiming God’s eternal love.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)