We hope you'll enjoy them ~ and look forward to seeing your stories and photos in the coming year. Merry Christmas!
The Reason for the Season
By Chelsey Bishop
My parents are deeply-devoted to giving gratitude to Jesus for gifts all year long, and Christmastime is no exception. They’ve always emphasized to my sister, brother and me that all of our blessings come from Christ alone.
To drive home that point, my mother puts a baby Jesus figurine from a different nativity scene in each of our stockings with an attached note reminding us that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Before we can open presents, we have to locate the nativity scene somewhere in the house that the baby Jesus we’re entrusted with belongs to and return Him safely to his rightful place. Seems straightforward. Until you look around and see so many Christmas decorations you’re not sure where to start looking first. My mother has a lot of nativity scenes and intentionally spreads them throughout the house. Even today, we're still racing through the house, now along with our children, searching for the perfect matching Joseph and Mary for our baby Jesus so we can unwrap this year’s blessings.
Reflections of Christmas
By Amy Millhorn Leonard
My Christmas reflections are like the twinkling lights reflected in the green goblets my grandmother used every Christmas Day, in the crystal punch bowl filled with punch at my Mamaw's house used every Christmas Eve, candlelight on the buffet table laden with goodies for many friends at my own home and from our real Christmas tree decorated with hundreds of tiny lights and ornaments collected for decades of years.
Christmas brings fond family memories and traditions which fill my head and heart. Over the years, I have begun to reflect more upon simpler Christmas memories. I admire Christmas ornaments as I unbox them and hang them on the Christmas tree remembering where I got this one or who gave me that one. I often find old Christmas cards among my collection of Christmas decorations. I stop to read them and recognize old friends I have lost track of and family members no longer here on earth.
Many of my Christmas reflections are of food like the sugar cookies I make and decorate with my kids every year to leave for Santa. I remember the oyster casserole my grandmother always made, the rum cake my Pappy Jack made and my mom's pecan pie. My children love the sausage balls, cheese ball and fudge I make every year.
I reflect on our family traditions, like going out to get a Christmas tree, decorating the house, driving around to look at Christmas lights, attending an old-fashioned Christmas at a local historic site, watching a Christmas parade, watching Christmas movies, watching the Christmas Cantata at church, listening to and singing Christmas carols and giving gifts to those less fortunate than ourselves.
My Christmas reflections are like the rays of light from The Star which appeared on that night hundreds of years ago, when born unto us was the Christ child: comforting and warm.
By Katherine Scoggins
When I was young, my most vivid Christmas memories were centered around church, choir and all the lights, smells and surprises of the season. (And Charlie Brown’s Christmas on TV.) When I got older, Christmas took on a slightly more commercial tone, going downtown to J Fred Johnson’s Department Store, Nettie Lee, Sobel’s and Joseph’s Music Center. There were no malls yet (in Kingsport, anyway), so looking at the downtown decorations, viewing the Nativity scene on Church Circle, watching the Christmas Parade and holiday displays in the stores were about all the excitement we could handle!
My mother let me invite my three best friends over on a Saturday afternoon to decorate Christmas cookies. Sugar cookies, cut into stars, Christmas trees, Santas and bells, were dressed in bright green, red and white icing and coated with sugar, sprinkles, those silver BBs and anything else our wildly creative imaginations could think up. The deal was that we could eat any that were broken - you can guess how that turned out!
When I reached my high school years, the Christmas traditions took on a more personal tone, going to see The Nutcracker ballet, singing in “The Messiah”, and participating in the beautiful Candlelight Christmas Services at First Baptist on Christmas Eve. After the service, a crowd of friends, fellow church goers, and musicians crowded into cars and headed to Sevier Terrace to the home of William N. Robinson, our Minister of Music, and his multi-talented family for an evening of eating, laughing, seeing friends home from school, eating, singing, playing, eating, until we could barely stay awake. We kept up that wonderful tradition for years.
My college years added a few more traditions to the mix - most of them Moravian. From the beautiful Moravian songs to the candlelight services, the Nutcracker, Messiah, Ceremony of Carols and the town of Winston-Salem taking on a more beautiful appearance than normal, Christmas vacation took on more importance - the end of exams, the visits to Old Salem for last minute gifts - sugarcake for the parents and tapes and sheet music for our friends - we traveled to our respective homes, older, wiser and definitely more sophisticated than before.
I like to think that all these experiences and memories made me a better person and a more grateful one for what I had in the way of guidance, instruction and wonderful examples that I received here at home. Wherever I have lived, my Christmas memories have always been an important part of my life. Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas filled with special memories.