As a child, I was blessed to celebrate Christmas at the homes of three sets of grandparents. There are few memories quite so vivid—or so enhanced by adult perspective—as those of Christmas Eves at my mother’s parents’ home, where my grandmother and aunts transformed an evening of agonizing expectation into one of culinary delight.
My uncle drove a delivery truck for UPS; as you might imagine, Christmas Eve was one of his busiest days. When the family—my sister, parents, great aunts, grandparents, aunt, and cousins—gathered together to open presents and celebrate, we had to wait until he finished his route and arrived.
As an adult, the anticipation of a gift is as exciting as the gift itself. As a child, that same anticipation was torture. I can still remember my sister, cousins, and I wailing, “When will he get here?” — a question no one could answer.
My grandmother was not only a true Southern cook, but a pastor’s wife as well. You might enter her home hungry, but you wouldn’t leave it that way. Looking back, I see more clearly how she plied us with comfort foods on Christmas Eve, ministering to our restless little spirits in that language of love that she spoke best.
The pot of steaming hot chocolate, the wax paper lined with homemade chocolate-covered cherries—magical treats reserved for this special night and forever associated with it in my memory.
My mother, grandparents, and great-aunts have passed on now, forever altering the landscape of Christmas for me. My cousin and I made chocolate-covered cherries at one recent year’s family celebration. We cried off and on through the process as we relived stories of the past and family we miss.
I look at my eight children and wonder what traditions of today will be their fondest memories of tomorrow, the ones that will truly define their childhood Christmases.
What special memories do you cherish of Christmas?