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The editor reflects on the memories of Christmases past, present, future

Christmas Day 1968, 116 S. Center St., Maple Hill. I’m here with two of my favorite Christmas gifts — my new Schwinn bike and my Lost In Space B-9 robot. Fifty-plus years later, I no longer own the bike, but I still have the robot.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette

Friday, Dec. 24, 2021 — It’s Christmas Eve here in Nelson County, and it goes without saying that all of us have our own reasons to celebrate the closing of one year and the start of the next.

For fellow Christians, it’s a time to recall the humble birth of Christ. Christmas is unique because it is both a secular and a religious holiday. This duality was ingrained in us all at an early age.

JIM BROOKS

As an empty nester who doesn’t have grandchildren yet, the joy of the secular holiday is a little muted this year. One of my greatest joys as a parent was experiencing Christmas through the eyes of my children. I loved shopping for the kids’ toys, which truly was just an excuse for me to buy them the toys I wish I had for Christmas 50 years ago.

The holiday season for many of us can also be a melancholy time because of the memories that Christmas brings to mind. We remember family members who are no longer with us, and feel the loss of their warmness, their smiles, their laughter and their spirit that we used to feel, particularly at Christmas time.

But the memories also recall the joy and wonder of those past family Christmas times, and they become treasured recollections when recalled today.

An aluminum Christmas tree with the obligatory rotating four-color spotlight that caused the tree to shimmer in hues of red, green, yellow and blue was a fixture in our living room window in our house on South Center Street.

On Christmas morning, my siblings and I would wake up at 4 a.m. and race down the stairs to a living room full of presents. My parents had no interest in getting out of bed at that hour, but did join us in time for us to excitedly demonstrate our new toys, eat breakfast and then get ready for Mass.

It wasn’t until we had our own young kids waking up early on Christmas morning that I learned how satisfying it was as a parent to lay in bed and listen to the sound of your children excitedly squealing, laughing and playing on Christmas morning.

One of the Christmas photos that survived the years was the year I got a Schwinn Fastback bike — my first set of wheels that gave me true mobility and freedom.

While the 8-year-old Jimmy didn’t think of it at the time, the most important gift we all received each Christmas was the gift of family. It’s difficult to describe the joy of the heartwarming memories of our family being together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There was the smell of fresh-cooked turkey, the sight of a platter of banana croquets, and my father Brooksie’s layered and carefully decorated jam cake.

I suppose its only natural to long for what seemed like simpler times of the past. But were they really so much simpler? Instead of issues like vaccinations, COVID, inflation, taxes and government overreach, back then we had the mandatory draft, the Vietnam War, civil rights, the rebellion of the youth counter-culture and other divisive issues.

The reality of course is that we can’t relive the memories of Christmases past. But we can — and will — continue to treasure those memories as we add to them with the arrival of each new Christmas season.

Those memories serve as a reminder of the importance of family and reuniting in celebration of whichever December holiday you chose to observe. This is a season during which we are encouraged to be a little more kind, a little more understanding, and a little more forgiving. This year, lets all work so our families can reunite in a spirit of peace, love and goodwill.

From the editor’s desk on my hill overlooking Cox’s Creek, I wish you all a warm and joyous Christmas season.

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