Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Merry Christmas and Happy Nostalgia

I first wrote this in 2010, for my new great-grandson, Judah. He was about to celebrate his first Christmas. I thought it was interesting then and still relevant today. I have had time to reflect on the subject in this article and have sort of updated it for this posting. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Nostalgia

I am about to celebrate my seventy-first Christmas. I am blessed. For the previous years are memories and should I make it to Christmas Day, this one will also become a memory. I trust it will be special.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Of course, you recognize the lines from Charles Dickens’, “A Tale of Two Cities.” Taking those lines completely out of context from the novel, I reflect upon the past years of my life and I find some truth in those words. If one is to recall the events of years past, it must be noted that not only are pleasant memories embedded in the mind, i.e., the best of times, but also those situations that remain dreadful, i.e., the worst of times. They provoke emotions. Those emotions drawn by our memory epitomizes life itself. Life does not have to be perfect. It just seems that way. If it were perfect, we would be unable to live even those idyllic experiences to their fullest. For every good and pleasant circumstance that we recollect, we are reminded of those forgettable times of which we cannot forget. Our memories can confront us at any time. Although, it seems the Christmas season causes most memories to become more spirited. Yet, it is very difficult to lay aside those that I wish to forget.

My plan this year, however, is to focus only on those pleasant memories. My conscience says, “Good luck with that”. Christmas seems to me to be a time to reflect on the year that has passed from us. Who among us can forget Christmases past?

As I think back to another time, I recall my firstborn. I was stationed on board an aircraft carrier, in Japanese waters at the time of my daughter’s birth. In those days, there was no internet, no Skype, no email, no texting, not even the ability to receive a phone call. Unable to communicate, I knew nothing about the big event until the ship arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, a few days after the occurrence. The commanding officer then relayed the information to me. That was in November of 1959.

I think about how the birth of Jesus was announced.   His announcement probably reached more people faster than I learned about my daughter’s birth. Those angels and shepherds worked very fast.

I celebrated my first Christmas as a new father in a far-off land. I must say, it was not the happiest Christmas I ever had, because I was so far away from my wife and newborn daughter.

Three years later another daughter was born and then with another Christmas passing, a son arrived into our home. As our family grew, our Christmases became more wonderful and exciting. Never having a lot of money for gifts, we made up for it with the love of each other. I do not believe anyone was ever disappointed. Who could ever forget the Hula Hoops, Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, Chatty Cathy dolls, Easy Bake Ovens, Play Doh, skateboards, and Silly Putty or G.I. Joe? I would wager you are now recalling toys of your youth.

I certainly remember all the great toys I had when I was growing up. You see, that is the neat thing about memories. You can replay them over and over again. Each time you do, they become more vivid and special. I was envious of my children’s toys but my toys were just as special to me as theirs were to them. It is unimaginable the electronic devices and toys that kids receive in this day and time.

As each generation turns the Christmas traditions over to the next, it simply means you bank more memories. For many, these pleasant memories overtake those that unwillingly clutter our mind. Yet, there are those who struggle with maintaining some semblance of sanity.

I believe that each of us have both good memories and not so good memories. How do we keep from dwelling on those we would just as soon forget? I don’t know all the answers, however, for me it is a faith in God.

That is why Christmas 2010 was very special. For you see, a new generation began. New chapters of memory can begin filling the pages of our minds. Judah, my first great-grandson by my granddaughter, Misty, celebrated his first Christmas. He may not remember anything about it but you can bet we will store each little tidbit in the memory bank. Much like a musical piece as it arrives at its crescendo, getting louder with every note, the memories become more vivid, with every song, Christmas bells, laughing children, incessant merchandizing, and so forth.

After looking back over the past seventy-odd years, I find the Christmas seasons full of memories. I suspect you do as well. For Christians around the world, it is a time of reflecting on the Gift that God gave to the human race. It was in Jesus that God gave us the greatest gift. He came to save us, to give us salvation, and eternal life. He gives us that gift freely, by the riches of his grace. We celebrate the extravagant and lavish love of God, demonstrated by the birth of Jesus Christ.

Hopefully, we will recognize that Christmas is not just a time set aside for gifts or for recalling those special memories. As you celebrate Christmas this year, keep that thought in mind.

P.S. For this Christmas 2012, I have a new great grandson, Zayne.  Zaybe, your memory bank is just beginning. Judah, yours is growing fast.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my family, friends and readers

A Children’s Choir


She sat quietly in the front pew. Her mind was not on the service. She was wondering how she could make this Christmas a special time for her eight-year-old daughter. Times had not been good lately. Her husband, Scott, had lost his life in the service of his country and to top that, her mother had passed away earlier in the year. Rocks in her life, taken away. Her father had died many years ago and was only a distant memory. With no siblings, she and Connie, her daughter, were all alone.

She was not in a celebrating mood. The only reason she had come was that Connie was singing in the children’s choir. Connie’s acceptance of the loss of her father was a bit easier, for she had become accustomed to her Daddy’s absence. He had been in Iraq for several months before he died. Since Connie’s Grandmother had passed away much earlier in the year, that was only a memory in her young life. However, it bore much more significance for Kathy, the young mother.

As the year wore on, the grief seemed insurmountable in her everyday life. It was overwhelming. Yet, it was Christmas. It is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. For Kathy, it was not. She had no family. She had been allowed to remain in the base housing until arrangements could be made to relocate. Oh, there were military friends. They meant well and tried to provide support for Kathy, but it just was not the same. She felt very alone. Connie was the only bright spot in her life.

One of Connie’s classmates had invited her to church some time back and it had led to an invitation to join the children’s choir. Kathy agreed to let her join, believing that she needed the companionship of her peers. Tonight she was glad she did for the sake of Connie. Connie was really enjoying herself, but Kathy, not so much. “A Merry Christmas”, say the children. Kathy wonders will God give me peace someday? For now, the holidays are sad.

As the children sang familiar carols, a tune popped into Kathy’s head. She could not remember the words, but the tune stuck. Her attention was diverted as she struggled, trying to think of the words. She remembered a story told to her by her father when she was a child. It was a moving story that fascinated her. It was about a flock of birds in a snowstorm seeking shelter yet ignoring the security of an open barn door. It reminded her of the tune that was bouncing around in her head, but the words would not come. The children continued singing with Kathy desperately trying to remember the words yet unsuccessfully at this point. The choir finished their music and the Director spoke to the audience giving accolades to the children. The congregation applauded vigorously.

And, then, it came to her. She remembered the man in the story attempting to shoo the birds into the open barn and in failing, the farmer discovered that the birds needed someone like them to show the way. It was apparent that this is what Kathy needed, someone to show her the way. Who would come to show Kathy the way, to bring her peace? Who had experienced the agony of human life? Who brought peace? Who did that? Someone like her.

He came to earth in human form, as an infant in a manger,  just as we entered this world, as an infant. Have you ever reached to touch a baby’s hand and the child will grasp your finger and hold on tightly?  He gave us the way.

We need only reach for His hand. Kathy reached out and He took her hand as the children sang the last song. Who gave her peace? Jesus, the Savior.!

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
their old familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!…”

Now she knew the words!

I hope you have the hope of Christ in your heart and soul. May you have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Pete Robertson

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