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The Tentacle


December 22, 2004

I Remember Christmases Past and. ...

Alan Imhoff

The holiday season brings many fond memories of Christmases past that are often sparked by quick comments at a family gathering, or seeing something at a store that jars the memory of a special gift from years ago.

Everyone in their own way has hundreds of these, yet all too frequently these memories get pushed aside as the frantic scramble begins, as we get ready for the year-end week from December 24th to January 1st.

To jockey for that parking space close to the mall entrance or rush to buy that "perfect" item that just went on sale all too often seems to override what should be a fun and relaxing time of year.

For me special memories abound in traditions long ago replaced by newer ones as I grew out of being a child, then teenager, through young adult, marriage, raising children and now settling down as they depart to go on their own journey.

Years of tradition in hanging fresh garland and wreaths around our church sanctuary, then finally being trusted to decorate the evergreen trees on either side of the altar with hundreds of small white lights.

A tradition of not doing anything in the house until my two younger sisters were in bed on Christmas eve, then bringing out everything and setting it up, often 'til the wee hours of the morning.

Then there was the year after my dad passed away of trying to find a tree on the 24th. My mom needed to stay home with my sisters, so this 15 year old trekked off in a snowstorm to get one. Went to our church just about a mile away, but they had sold out. Tried a couple of other places nearby before finally finding one at a lot another half mile away. Then there was that hike back home, dragging the tree behind.

While it wasn't like the Currier and Ives print of bringing home the tree in the country, it is a little memory for me that for a kid in Baltimore had the same impact. My sisters never knew otherwise, because Santa had done it again.

After moving to Frederick - and up until last year, our family tradition was to go out and find that perfect tree, cut it down and haul it home, after a cup or two of hot chocolate. Another tradition brought up from my youth in Baltimore was the annual drive around the neighborhoods looking at the light decorations.

What made the tradition even more fun here in Frederick was picking up one of our senior neighbors who had no family in town and taking her with us. The first stop was the obligatory drive to Dunkin' Donuts for a donut and, of course, hot chocolate. We had a lot of fun driving all over Frederick to see the lights.

Now we open our house on Christmas Day to neighbors, friends and family to share some of the joy of the season. Another new tradition now has me making several dozen stuffed mushrooms in wine sauce, one item I cannot leave off the buffet table.

Whether old or new, traditions are what the season is about. No matter what the religion, no matter what nationality the family, all of us need to remember it is a time to share and have fun. It is a time to let the other person have that prime parking space and maybe passing up that special gift and sponsor a toy for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots drive or placing the ten spot in the red kettle.

May each of you enjoy the very best this country has to offer and be thankful for the opportunity to continue or create your own traditions.



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