For many of you, probably Christmas is probably your favorite holiday of the year. For the rest of us it is very high on the list.
I always enjoyed Thanksgiving more for the simple reason that it seems less hectic. The buying of gifts — of which many are taken back, the loss of the true meaning of Christmas, up with decorations only to have to take them all down, box it, and find a place to store it for a year … seems to take the fun out of the Christmas season.
I remember when, during World War II, my dad found a bicycle for my friend Grubby’s mother to give to him for Christmas. Bikes were very hard to find during the war.
I also remember the Christmas pageant our school put on and I always got a good part. They said I had a strong voice. Most of my friends made fun of me, but my mother was so proud of me. I will always remember the look on her face when someone would tell her how good I sang.
I don’t remember the songs, but I will never forget mom’s face beaming with pride.
I also remember the Christmas of 1945, when my uncles came home from the war without a scratch. I really didn’t know them since they had been gone for so long. We made up for that lost time.
Across the street from our Catholic grade school was what we called a convent. The nuns who taught me for eight years lived there, and it was a beautiful building. For a number of those years I was the only other male besides the priest who attended Mass there. I was the acolyte, or server, to the priest at Sunday Mass.
Why, I will never know, but the mass was at 5:30 in the morning. At that time I wasn’t very happy to be chosen for that duty, but today those memories are precious.
But the one outstanding memory of that chapel was serving Midnight Mass on Christmas eve. The chapel was mostly white marble and the nuns would put blue lights all over that marble. Never have I ever seen anything more beautiful.
Several of the nuns would play Christmas carols on their violins before Mass. Then they would also sing classical Christmas songs.
As the saying goes, you had to be there. To this day on Christmas eve, I am sure I can still see that chapel and hear those Christmas melodies.
I also got a nice gift from the nuns. I can’t recall most of them, but one year they gave me a box of rum-soaked chocolate candy. I think my mother allowed me a piece or two.
But it’s the only candy I ever saw my dad eat — and I am sure most or all of the box!
Tony Lamke of Wilmington writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].