It’s the day after Christmas. I’m sixteen and still in bed at nine in the morning. My brother’s in the military and not home this year. Yesterday, we had our Christmas, just the three of us: Daddy, Mom, and me. I tore through the carefully wrapped packages Mom lovingly decorated, ate more than my share of Daddy’s fudge he and Mom made from the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s can, and laughed over old movies and rooted for my favorite team all afternoon and evening with my folks.
This morning, my parents are at the kitchen table, dinging their spoons against their coffee mugs. My alarm clock. They figure I’ve been asleep long enough. They don’t know I’ve been waiting for the sound, waiting for the invitation to join them (as if I needed it) that they’ve issued every Saturday this year, then again on Christmas Day, and again now! After “Good morning, sleepy head” and a cup of coffee, what has become our Saturday tradition since my brother left now becomes our Christmas season tradition.
Mama sings the opening notes to “Silver Bells,” and we do our own version of “Daddy Sang Bass.” Which he does. I add the alto, and the three of us sing through every Christmas song, Christian and secular, we know for the rest of the morning. Both my parents sang professionally, Mom on the radio and in the U.S.O., and Daddy with a band that toured Georgia and nonprofessionally in the military. I’m a chip off the ol’ block—a ham off the ol’ hog.
Once we’ve exhausted the Christmas carols, we hit every other song we know, until Daddy decides it’s time for pancakes, which he makes. Mama fries the bacon, I pour the milk, and here it is: our tradition extended from Saturdays to Christmas, with the wonderful addition of fudge and pancakes.
We no longer have a family tradition. Not since Billy and I married, not since Daddy died. Mom’s not able to be too involved in Christmas singing. I miss it. But, I have a recording.
Back in the day RCA and Sony made those sorry little things they called cassette recorders, Mom set one on the table and hit the record button. I have Daddy, Mama, and me singing everything we knew, dinging our coffee cups, and yes, clearing our throats, on tape. I can even hear the bacon sizzle while we make breakfast during our music.
I miss our tradition.
But the meaning of Christmas isn’t in our traditions, not entirely. It stems from the very first Christmas when a Child was born in a manger. It lies in the fact that God loved me and my family and friends—and everyone else who believes—so much He gave His only begotten Son that we should not perish but have everlasting life. That’s the true meaning and the reason for the season.
Merry Christmas, everyone!