The blessings and joy of Christmas

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Christmas ball

The joy of Christmas when I was a child brought so much excitement we thought our hearts could not hold it all. We celebrated together as a family on Christmas Eve, after bathtime and always wearing brand new pajamas, with the 25th reserved for a day at the home of my maternal grandparents. 

The days leading up to this had been full, helping with everything from baking and decorating to stringing popcorn and cranberries, along with the constant chores of twice-daily milking and barn work. 

Dad and my older sisters would find a perfect tree on the farm, cut it down and bring it to the living room. The lovely scent added to my ingrained memories of those olden days, when our family defined our whole world. 

Humble gifts

Even though we had circled our wildest wishes in the Montgomery Ward catalog, my sisters and I were reminded that there were many, many boys and girls in the world. We were among the lucky ones with a warm home and everything we needed, every single day. It was fun to wish, but selfish to expect all of those wishes to come our way. 

Our gifts were humble, but held so dear: a doll, a game that we could play together, pajamas, maybe a new winter coat. Santa had filled our stockings very simply with an orange, nuts and candies, and a popcorn ball surprisingly wrapped in much the same way I had seen our Mom wrap hers for gifts added to cookie boxes for old folks in the community we visited in the days before Christmas. 

Exchanging gifts

It was exciting to exchange gifts with my sisters, each putting great thought into what would be adored and appreciated. A trip to Woolworth’s in the week prior to Christmas was exciting, our purchases guarded with great secrecy. 

“You are going to love your present!” my sister would whisper to me as we pulled the blankets close in our chilly upstairs bedroom. 

Each morning, we marked the calendar, another day closer. 

Christmas joy

I now have the joy of watching very young grandchildren experiencing this magical season. When darkness fell last night, they enjoyed a car ride and the thrill of an impressive Christmas light display on a nearby farm. Both were amazed when Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared, making spirits even brighter. 

From my home to yours, we wish you the blessings of the season. May your hearts be filled with warmth and joy, wrapped in magic, and all the love your heart can hold.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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