While I don’t always present it as much as I may have in younger days, I love the Christmas/Holiday season of December – especially those traditions that are carried on over the years.

It has become more and more difficult for me to keep as upbeat about the month of December the older I get, and I have determined that has a lot to do with the loss of family or church traditions.

My life growing up came within the structure of a church as my Dad was a pastor, serving churches in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota and Missouri.  Many of my traditions came from what went on within the church itself, like the ninth-grade junior diaconate displaying a living nativity along a busy street in northeast Lincoln, Nebraska.

For years, my Dad had a most impressive, most memorable, candle themed Christmas eve service – where the candles each held the significance of a part of the Christmas story and by the end of the service all we had were candlelight and a brilliant choir/congregation rendition of ‘Silent Night’.  I will never forget when my Dad was forced to change his most memorable Christmas eve service due to the fear of fire issues, though with all those services I attended never did I see a fire of any kind and the most harm done was a brief dripping of wax on someone’s arm or church clothes.

I was blessed as a kid, as I seemed to have like two or three Christmas celebration/traditions every year even within the traditional family unit.  The first seemed to be the churches my Dad was serving always had a ‘pastor family’ surprise after the Christmas eve service, except for the one year where they snuck their gifts into our home and left them under my folk’s bed without any of us knowing.  Most memorable gift from those celebrations was an aquarium.

Our family every year put up the tree and decorated both the tree and the house the weekend after Thanksgiving, and always kept it all up and looking festive until the second weekend after Christmas.

Family celebration/tradition number two would be Christmas morning, when we would all wake up to the family stereo cranked up with the great Christmas hymn ‘Joy to the World’ as done by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Then we’d all sit together and have some of Mom’s mouthwatering cinnamon rolls before us kids could start passing out the gifts that were piled under the tree.

Opening gifts was done in order of youngest to oldest, one at a time with the expectation of all to pay attention and share in the joy of others opening their presents.

The real highlight of Christmas morning would be the constant presence of my grandparents on my Dad’s side, Aunt Mary or Aunt Helen, it seemed we always got to share the day with the family elders and we were blessed by that.

Christmas celebration/tradition number three was the Christmas afternoon arrival of my Grandma Hawkes, who always arrived at that time due to being an organist for two Christmas eve services in Connecticut before coming west to celebrate with us.

As the years roll on, as the years added up on my rode of life, my Christmas Celebrations/Traditions did as well – they rolled on.  My family celebrations took a change when I joined much of society and went through a divorce, meaning I now had to share the holidays with the other parent.

From there, even after I got remarried, the holiday’s seemed to change as we found ourselves sharing with so many and some being what seemed to be so far away.

The idea of having the full family of five adult children plus any spouses, and all nine grandkids in one place at one time for a holiday/Christmas celebration, just seems to be skiing down the hill ahead of me at a speed that keeps it seemingly so out of reach.  To give you an idea how strung out the holiday/Christmas season could be to spend with family, when you add up the grandparent prospects of our nine grandkids, they have a combined 25 sets of grandparents.  That’s what happens when society moves in the direction of so many broken and blended families.

So ‘Grumpy Gramps’ holiday/Christmas wish for all is to enjoy and celebrate family while and when you can, and remember to take lots of pictures to jog the memory in those later years when the joy of the celebration/traditions seem to be fading away.

There we have it, another yapping by ‘Grumpy Gramps’.  If you want more from ‘Grumpy Gramps’ then check out the Facebook page of CrossDove Writer.

Until next time – prayers, blessing and happy thoughts – ‘Grumpy Gramps’.

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