Time to look at Christmas memories

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk, West Knox

So, you made it through Christmas 2020! I know very few who had a stress-free holiday. I know even fewer who didn’t celebrate differently this year.

Different isn’t always bad or wrong or less than before. But, if you are comfortable with your own traditions, different is still, well, different. Different experiences help us mold our future ones into even better days. Sometimes we discover something when “different” happens that puts us on a new path.

Whatever your holiday looked like in a year of COVID-19, there’s a chance it will shape future holidays as we analyze the things that make us happy.

Personally, I had blessings and stresses Christmas week. We were blessed to have family here, in our home, and it was amazing. We were stressed because plans to celebrate immediately following Christmas Day with more family were derailed by the events in Nashville. Flexibility has been my shield this year, and it had to be brought out even at Christmas.

As moms/matriarchs, we are the ones who worry, plan, hope and pin our own happiness on how Christmas unfolds for our family. Whether it’s a beautiful Christmas dinner, a game night on Christmas Eve or a few minutes on the couch for a story and some Christmas Magic, the trappings of our Christmases past always linger, wanting to force us to keep things “the same.”

Now that my children are grown-ups who have blessed me with phenomenal grandchildren, I can share with you a very important lesson. There’s a problem with trying to create the perfect Christmas memory for your children, and it has nothing to do with tinsel, hot chocolate or colored vs. clear lights on the tree. The problem is this: You don’t get to pick what your children remember.

If you don’t believe me, listen to your grown children talk to each other, spouses and friends. They may acknowledge general sweeping traditions such as, “We always read Luke, Chapter 2 or “The Night Before Christmas.” Or, “We had to wait on the steps for the parents before entering the room Santa has visited.” Or, “We always got to open one present on Christmas Eve, and it was always pajamas.”

But what gets the conversation going isn’t what you fretted so over creating.

You want the memory to be of the perfectly decorated Christmas tree, with special ornaments to memorialize the years of their lives.

More than likely, it’s the year the tree fell.

You want the memory to be the postcard-worthy look of wonder on the little ones’ faces as they round the corner to the room where Santa left all the toys.

More than likely, it’s the year little Sally snuck downstairs in the wee hours of the morning, played with all her toys and then went back to bed.

You want the memory to be the Norman Rockwell holiday dinner with the mouthwatering turkey at table’s center and the fine Christmas china setting off each one’s place.

More than likely, it’s the year Tommy snorted chocolate milk up his nose when grandad passed gas.

Take heart, weary moms and grandmothers. The point is, they remember a place where love circled around them, where their happiness and joy were important and parents who put everything into creating days worthy of the spirit of Christmas.

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.


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