Dear Friends of Kenilworth Union Church,
What is the earliest memory you have of Christmas? Take a moment to consider it.
Many years (decades) ago, I hosted a family Christmas with four generations and new spouses gathered. On Christmas Eve, everyone was asked of the first Christmas he or she could recall, and to share the story the next morning as we unwrapped gifts. The stories were the gift.
My first-generation, Swedish grandmother, born in 1907, remembered her father bundling her into the sleigh and placing bells on the horses when they would leave the farm at 5:30 a.m. for worship services at the Lutheran church in Watauga, IL. I always wondered how they navigated country roads at such an hour amidst so much darkness. Can you imagine the “parking lot” in this country church of sleighs and horses?
My dad recalled getting a fountain pen—the kind you pumped ink into—and pretended with a ball-point pen how ink was pumped into the pen for his grandsons who could not imagine such a device. In my mind’s eye I can see the incredulous looks on my nephews’ faces, “why didn’t the pen come with ink?”
My story: I remembered wearing a pink tricot robe with wings made of pipe-cleaner-ish wire when I was about 6 or so and sang in the angel choir. The wings were strong enough to hold shape until angels smushed around the semi-circular communion rail in our Swedish Lutheran church and then you saw just how fragile angel wings can be.
My grandma remembered what it was like to be in a sleigh, although not my dad’s fountain pen, she recalled how “adult” they were as a gift (kind of like a youngster getting a smartphone today). She reminded me of the halo I wore with the robe and wings.
When we tell the stories over and over, we remember and reclaim what happened, and put ourselves in the generations for whom Christmas is about God coming into our lives in surprising ways.
We all have a first Christmas memory. Remember your own story. Hear the story of your family’s Christmas. Hear the story of the first Christmas from Luke and Matthew and know it is your story.