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“It’s Christmas Day”

Today is Christmas Day.  It is special to me on so many levels.   Of course, the most obvious and important reason is that it marks the birthday of Jesus Christ over two thousand years ago.  No matter how commercialized Christmas has become, this amazing birth remains the reason we celebrate.
It is also the only day of the year that I don’t have anything to do related to my business and professional life.   Christmas is the only day that our Hardee’s restaurants are closed.   The newspaper is printed early so that the news office can be closed.  Even the city is closed for the holiday, so my upcoming duties as Mayor can be put on hold for the day.
It isn’t a day of rest necessarily.  Our joint family starts with a brunch.  Eggs, bacon, biscuits, and cheese grits.  This is the one time of the year that we make those grits without any health considerations.  It has as much butter, cheese, milk and cream as it needs to get them just right.  No low fat stuff on Christmas.
My mother, and my sister and her family, arrive this afternoon.  My uncle will arrive as well.   My children and grandchildren have already arrived.  Our house and my brother’s house next door are now busting at the seams with four generations of our extended family.  
There is a fire going in every fireplace.  People gather in the den and the kitchen mostly.   We’ll migrate to the dining room a little later in the day for the “Big Meal”.  
You’ll hear laughter, children playing, and an occasional cry for attention from Will, the latest addition to the family.  The stories of the current year and of years past will begin.   Some of the stories are older than I am.  They may change a bit, but no one tires of hearing them.
My earliest memories of Christmas as a child are of going in the woods with my Dad to cut down our tree.  We didn’t do that for very many years, but is still is a special memory.   
Our lights were multi-colored with large bulbs, not like the tens of thousands of white mini lights that you see everywhere now.   All our decorations inside and out are white now, except for the tree itself which has thousands of small multi-colored lights.  I could sit in front of the fireplace in the dark and look at that tree for hours.
Christmas morning was probably a bit smaller back then, but I never knew that.  There weren’t as many toys to be had even if you had the money.  They weren’t advertised 24 hours a day, so children didn’t necessarily know what they were missing.   New clothes seemed to be more prevalent than new gadgets.   
We always played with the boxes, and the tubes saved from wrapping paper.  They made great swords for the boys to do battle with.
Naps after the big meal are just as prevalent now as they were back then.   The night’s meal of leftovers always includes a turkey sandwich with a lot of mayonnaise.
Christmas changes for us all and yet stays the same.  The one thing that never changes is the promise made by the birth of a small child in Bethlehem.   It is our greatest gift of all.
Dan Ponder can be reached at

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