Besides being Christmas Day, December 25 may hold many memories for the people in our families. Some, of course, will remember warm, cozy times from growing-up years, or special visits with relatives or close family friends. Working on my family trees, though, I've found other memories tucked away in the dates I've recorded for my relatives.
One such date is that of a cousin of my husband, who was born on December 25. The perennial question: did she get twice as many gifts as she'd otherwise get if, say, her birthday had fallen in April or August?
While this may not be as much of a tradition now as it was in times past, I've noticed quite a few family members who were married during the Christmas season. For a way to capitalize on the gathering of family members, scheduling a wedding close to Christmas seemed a smart way to plan.
On another part of our family tree, I was working on a branch of my mother's Tilson line, and ran across an in-law whose last day of life occurred on that same day: December 25. For some people I've personally known, losing a loved one around a holiday can be particularly difficult, no matter whether it was a sudden occurrence or a quiet and expected close to a lingering illness. Christmas will never seem the same for folks in that situation. The one event will always recall the other.
This day, filled with so many memories gathered throughout a lifetime, has become one day to re-enact the traditions of our ancestors, but it blends in the customs of multiple family lines while borrowing something new from current culture and media. How many this year included the "Grinch" in their favorite holiday stories, much as families from generations ago might have included Dickens' Christmas Carol or more recent generations reached for the nostalgia of a movie from Hollywood's golden age?
Stories have always been part of Christmas, but no matter how many other tales are shared during the holiday season—from tales of Santa Claus to more recent inventions—the one I still go back to is the earnest simplicity of that one which has been repeated now for over two thousand years: the report of a baby born to a couple in the midst of their travels far from the place they had called home, a baby of promise, a child hoped for, a person whose life has made a difference by the gift He gave for so many of us around the world, even today.
Above: "The Cratchits' Christmas Dinner," illustration by Gilbert Scott Wright for the 1909 London book, The Children's Dickens; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.