Compiled by GWEN SISSON
In the South, traditions are important, and never so important as at Christmastime. One of the traditions at the Starkville Daily News has been collecting Santa letters from local school children and publishing them,
as written, in the Christmas Eve edition of the paper.
All letters were typed before being sent to the North Pole, of course,
just in time for Christmas.
Another tradition that has become meaningful over the past few years at the SDN has been reader responses to a special Christmas question. This
year, we asked several readers to share Christmas traditions. They are as follows:
• Paige Watson — “On Christmas Eve, my sweet grandmother, that we call Nanny Sandra, always reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ to all of her grandchildren! It is so special for all of us!”
• Mike Goree — “The traditional Christmas Eve breakfast at our house has always been waffles, topped with strawberries and ‘squirt’ whipped cream and served with link sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs. A great favorite with the kids as they were growing up. Also, we leave our Christmas tree up all year round. (We never know when we might need it.)”
• Carole McReynolds Davis — “This Christmas I have 3 extra ‘children’...and lots of admirers... who are they? Little stuffed and happy ‘just’ a rocking in his favorite Bent Wood Rocker...and “Dottie” sitting in her Santa outfit, and little “Mollie Golly” standing besides her...there is a Victorian rocker filled with a huge Christmas wreath...and our 12 foot Christmas tree is brightly lite and just waiting, waiting, waiting until Dec. 25.
“All the many yellow school buses filled with young, happy, vibrant, and fun children pass by each early morning and then again later in the afternoon...and guess what? Several have yelled out...and said, ‘Hello to all three Santas’... and all three ‘waved back.’ I saw them smile and wave back to all those children!”
• Judy Smith — “We enjoy the holidays visiting with our families, buying special gifts for our two grandsons, preparing goodies and special meals, and counting our blessings for the year. We look forward to the quietness of the candlelight in the Christmas Eve Service amidst all the hustle and bustle associated with Christmas.
“As Christians, we celebrate Christ as the center of Christmas, and so we strive to keep our focus in the right place. We also celebrate my mother’s birthday on Dec. 25! We are thankful that God reached down and gave us His Son, Jesus, to be our Saviour...what a wonderful, eternal gift!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
• Amy Aarhus — “As a child, my favorite memory was driving with my parents and sister to my great grandmother’s house in Uniontown, Ala. It was almost all backroads to her house, and we would always sing ‘Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go...’ It was so fun, because it truly felt like that’s what we were doing to get to Grandmama’s house.
“My MOST favorite Christmas tradition actually takes place at my grandparents home in Flomaton, Ala. My dad and my husband are band directors, and they encourage everyone to bring their instruments to play. It’s so neat to see a room full of past and present musicians playing Christmas carols for my grandparents. It’s not the best sounding music you’ve ever heard, but it’s still fun, and everyone seems to enjoy it.”
• Eddie Myles — “This is basically my wife, Andrea’s, tradition, my tradition is simple — play with the kids stuff that I bought. But seriously, what she would do is stay in bed for most of the day and watch the movie, ‘Titanic,’ on Christmas morning. For the last eight years this has been part of her routine and we are not to bother her. Personally I kind of like that.”
• Dorothy Watson — “As our families grow and transform, so have our traditions. Our family used to read a set of 12 Christmas books starting 12 days before Christmas, saving ‘T’was the Night...’ for the last night. Now that we’re grown and spread out, we have started. Christmas Themes. Last year was the ‘Life’s Lessons Christmas.’
Some gifts contained notes with lessons: 1) We started a quarter collection many years ago. Then the family split and we never got to finish. We all opened a gift that contained the entire quarter collection, and we each sorted and arranged 104 quarters in our books. We made a competition (race) out of this project, and the lesson note said, “Always finish what you start!” 2) The other lesson gift was Laurie Parkers latest book ‘Sweet Dreams.’
“As a young family, we had this saying as part of a long dialog we cherished every night before bed. In each of the books was autographed (our bedtime saying) ‘Night night, SWEET DREAMS, nappyhouse, hope you sleep good, hope you have sweet dreams in your heart, night night carrots, night night potatoes, bye bye sweetheart, night night sweetheart! - Always remember traditions.’
“This year the theme is: Christmas Past. My job is to gather all Christmas pictures from the past, even the ones from the ice storm when we slept in the hotel Christmas Eve.”
• Wanda Hubbard — “I grew up in Sandersville, a very small town in Jones County. Every Christmas my mother, father, younger brother, and I would make the short drive out in the country to our family farm.
“With my dad carrying the ax, we would walk through the woods until we found a suitable cedar tree. After Daddy chopped it down, we would drag the tree back to the pick-up truck and haul it home, where my father would trim it to the right size. After putting our decorations and lights on the tree, we plugged it in. Back then, if one bulb burned out, they all went out. We spent a lot of time testing bulbs!”
• Frank Ingels — “For years I have sent to the kids and now to their kids writings about CHRISTmas. Here is the one from a few years ago.”
The Real Reason Behind the
Seasonal Christmas Story
I’ll bet you didn’t know that ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ wasn’t the first Christmas Story. In fact it was written many centuries after my first and real story about Christmas, the one I wrote when I invented Christmas.
Let me tell you the real story, it’s wondericious, just delicious, spantastic, fantastic and miracleastic! Here’s how it goes ‑ from Santa himself:
One dark and snowy night I wanted to know,
How to make this season of cold, dreary snow,
A time of happiness, one of many joys,
For all little children, both girls and boys.
Then it came to me, on this snowy night,
How to make it all both goodness and right.
Getting up in a flash, I went to my place so cold,
You know ‑ the one way up North, way up at the pole.
And there all the little people I knew to be,
Clapped their hands and shouted with glee,.
For as I told them, you’ll spread to all some joy,
By making and giving, each child a great toy.
So on that night was born a great season,
One that has lasted for centuries, with reason.
It’s gift is to give to each child a vision,
They’ll carry all their life, like a mission.
Now think of the task that before me lay,
To deliver to all by me in my sleigh,
The toys and good cheer from wonderful elves,
Who did it all with no help, but themselves.
Now how do you think that one Santa dear,
Can visit all the houses and leave all that cheer,
And how can I fit down that chimmney,
Especially the ones too small to shimmney?
Why in a blink of an eye and a nod of my head,
I shrink to the size of a bug in a bed,
And down I go so swift and clean,
That after it’s over I glow with a sheen,
And then look ‘round a room dressed up so fine,
That only good things can now come to mind.
From cups of sweet cider, the steam is arising,
The smell of good things is just so surprising,
The house is so quiet, its people are sleeping,
And behold all around, the toys begin peeping!
They awaken quite slowly, then duty tells all,
And soon they are marching and shouting their call,
‘Let the lights be dimmed and the action begin’,
Shout little toy soldiers, all dressed up in tin,
As they gather in groups and take sides of the room,
Then march toward each other from out of the gloom.
But before they can close up their ranks to meet,
A sly little cat creeps closer to greet,
And scatter asunder those soldiers of tin,
Who run helter‑skelter and make quite a din,
While sugar plum fairies fly down from the tree,
To fend off the cat with wings that beat free!
Then all of a sudden, as quick as a flash,
All the toys are so quiet after making their dash,
That I gave a quick nod and a wink of my eye,
And set all the room in order, ready to say a goodbye.
Around the room I take a last look, a gleam in my eye,
And lo and behold ‑ the cookies I spy,
And a tree that’s lovely and dressed all about,
It’s all I can do not to give a loud shout,
Of all the packages, so pretty and strewn around,
‘Bout that tree that was once in the ground,
Up on the roof I hear pounding of hoofs in a flurry,
From all my reindeer who know I must be in a hurry,
To get about the world so large and round,
Means we cannot waste even a single bound,
Nor at any place can we tarry too long,
For to visit all we must hurry along.
And time’s not a problem ‘cause stop it I do,
And soon ‑ as you know ‑ to every child I’ve been true,
Bringing that wonderful love and the care so great,
That those wonderful elves worked so hard to make.
And now you know of the truth, the reason,
That lies behind the real Christmas season.
And now that you know, here’s a challenge bold,
To spread all this love ‑ even when you’re old!