“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?” – or are you so overwhelmed by the rush to get ready for Christmas, that you don’t have time to enjoy the sights and sounds which abound or to stop and reflect on the reason for the season?
It just seems for many of us that holiday preparations, not to mention the financial pressures of the season, take over leaving us more frazzled than festive. Granted, Christmas takes more preparation than any other holiday, but there comes a time when its best to step back, relax a little and make some decisions about what’s necessary and what’s not to make the observance special.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in an exhausting quest for a picture-perfect celebration like a spotless house, beautifully wrapped packages, and an array of fancy foods. While giving and receiving gifts is an important part of Christmas, the older you get the more you realize that the most important part of the holiday is to create memories to savor over the years and develop traditions which seem to anchor families.
How in the world could anyone get ready for a wedding on Christmas Day, what with presents to open, dinner to prepare, and family and friends coming in and out.
But then I suppose there are advantages – after all, the church is already decorated, out-of-town family members are home for the holidays, and many may feel like they need a change of pace with a little less togetherness.
Those things probably didn’t have anything to do with why Roy and Pat Holter selected Christmas Day in 1949 for their wedding, or why Joe and Martha Struble tied the knot in 1950 on Christmas Day.
Driving through Nelsonville the other day, I noticed a sign about the Santa Express runs, a part the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s program, and I thought of David Robinette, a Meigs County model railroad enthusiast, who for many years volunteered his services on the restored train.
David, who recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, was dedicated to keeping the spirit of railroading alive. When the schedule for runs was announced, you would know that he was dusting off his old vest and railroad cap and making his way up the road to ride the rails again.
This year David’s health didn’t permit him to be a part of the crew. I know how much he must miss that, but this year he is spending at home enjoying one of his trains as it travels around the Christmas tree.
I share with you this holiday season, a verse written by my late husband Bob in the late 1940s while working part-time as a linotype operator at The Daily Sentinel and attending Ohio University.
I had never seen it (before my time) until many years later, when a copy clipped from the Sentinel was sent to me in a Christmas card by the late Blanche Haskins of Middleport. In her note she said she always kept the poem in her Stanley Jones book “Abundant Living” so she could read it often and that she had always felt the last line expressed it all — the true spirit of Christmas. While I shared the poem with our readers at that time, I feel it is worth repeating today.
“I bought the most expensive tree to trim that I could find,
The decorations for it were the most elaborate kind.
A family I knew with little means also had a tree
The cheapest on the market, shunned by such as me,
But my expensive gadgets never matched the work of art
Of that tree so beautiful decorated with the little family’s heart.