---- — It’s not very difficult to hear the echoes of Christmases past, if one really tries hard enough. Just like all of the other four senses, echoes play an important part in our remembering the past. There is something different about the sounds that play over and over in our minds, compared to just smelling cookies baking in the oven or the aroma of a turkey wafting throughout our homes. Not everyone can hear the chatter of grandparents long since gone from our lives so very many years ago, let alone the scampering and screeching sounds of children running down the stairs on Christmas mornings past. I don’t believe that a person has to have a special gift, similar to that of extrasensory perception, to be able to draw on the long ago happenings of the distant past. Every generation seems to lose something special when it comes to this time of year. Just during my life span, I can remember so many ways that the Christmas season was celebrated. It really doesn’t take much to draw back on those wonderful memories of the holidays when I was growing up. Anyone over the age of 50 can surely remember just how beautifully downtown Lebanon was decorated this time of the year. Christmas lights were strung across the streets around the square along with lighted wreaths and other doodads that were symbols of the holiday season. And how could we ever forget all of the bright lights that were stretched from the courthouse dome to every building around the square? I can remember that we could be miles out of town in any direction and still be able to see those vivid colors of reds, greens, blues, oranges and whites glimmering brightly in the darkness of winter’s night. If any of the early astronauts were whizzing overhead at that time, I’m just certain that they would have been able to see our small city’s brilliant tribute to Christ’s birthday. What added even more to the ambiance was that we seemed to always have a heavy blanket of snow covering the ground at that time of year. The temperature seemed to be so much colder in those days of the 1950s and 1960s and that too, added to the atmosphere of the Christmas holidays.
Besides all of the decorating that the city did, our local merchants always decorated their window displays with the intent of showing just how much Christmas spirit that they had. Of course, it also brought in many shoppers seeking those special gifts that would eventually surround our evergreen trees that had become the center of our holiday celebrations. One store that comes to mind is the long since gone Mitchell & Berry Drug Store that was located on the southwest corner of the square. It wasn’t a very large store compared to today’s standards, but every available shelf was stocked with brightly colored toys that were meant to attract children like magnets.
Lets leave the decorations and presents in the past and draw on the thoughts of loved-ones that are not here to celebrate with us anymore. Oh, let me tell you folks, even if our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are not visibly with us anymore, they are surely with us in spirit, if in no other way. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ of course, should remain the number one reason for rejoicing this time of year, but it also entails so much more, at least to me. Separating Santa, presents, brightly colored lights and rich foods, leaves us with much more to celebrate this time of year. I can remember our home being filled with so many people when it came to Christmases past. Christmas music would be playing in the background, but with all of the visiting, I doubt many were able to hear whether or not Bing Crosby or Dean Martin, were singing.
When you get to be in your mid-50s or older, it seems like more of your family and friends have gone on to be with the Lord than there are people still living. Just because we can’t see our loved ones anymore, are they really that far away from us? I expect the saddest for me is that sometime between 1981 and the present, I have lost the ability to hear my dear Mother’s voice. But, I know that she is right here next to us as we partake in our annual Christmas celebration, just as my Dad is, even though he passed this last February.I think next to rejoicing about Jesus being born, remembering family and friends that are no longer with us, is one of the biggest reasons for celebrating Christmas. Christmas present is, I believe, all about remembering our Christmases past. We should never let go of what use to be, but always embrace our fond and happy memories of what once was. That doesn’t mean that we must hang onto unpleasant events that have occurred in our past, certainly not! But let us spend this next week as we prepare for Christmas 2013, by reminiscing of those countless, pleasant times that we all have shared with family and friends. Just remember this, there will be no sorrow in Heaven, only joyful jubilation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Merry Christmas one and all, may nothing but great blessings find their way to your doorsteps this holiday season and every day there after.
Contact Raymond L. Snoke at firstname.lastname@example.org.