By Marsha M. Brown
The month of December, probably more than any stirs emotions in all of us. It just can’t help but do that.
First and foremost, in honor of all veterans of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, we remember. We will never forget that horrific surprise attack that killed 2400 Americans. According to The American Legion, Volume 173, No. 6, the magazine for a strong America, “The national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association officially disbanded due to dwindling membership on December 31, 2011 but its spirit lingers on.” It was sad to read that, but just the same rest assured, no amount of time will ever erase our remembrance and honor of those who served.
For those of us who are ‘baby boomers’, we remember the days when things were a lot different than they are today. Christmas was when you knew our nation as a whole celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a time when families heard the stories of how Joseph and Mary traveled great distance to finally find humble shelter in which Mary could deliver her little baby boy…the baby who would affect our world from that time forward.
Having grown up in the 1950’s life was simple…TV was in black and white, decorations and yard ornaments, crosses and religious symbols were traditional and they were cherished. It was normal and acceptable to see Nativity scenes, angels and the like…it was life and life was good. Expressions of faith were per the believer and even if some people didn’t share your faith, they respected it and if others challenged it, it wasn’t apparent or a big deal. People were happy…and people got along.
It was a time, when kids of all ages looked forward to seeing Santa Claus, sit on his lap and tell him their hopes and dreams for Christmas morning. Little boys wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun, a 40 Piece Set of Green Army Men and girls almost always wanted a baby doll or an Old Fashion Jacks Game.
Hopes were always big but expectations were limited. Even as children, we understood that Mom and Dad didn’t have a lot. Most mothers stayed at home, sewing, cooking, cleaning and meeting the kids at the school bus stop. Military families, especially, weren’t wealthy but life was sweet just the same. Kids never liked socks much (or at least none that I knew of), and stockings were sometimes sticky from sampled ribbon Christmas candy and peppermint sticks put back for later.
Christmas trees were called just that…Christmas trees, not ‘holiday’ trees (give me a break). Virtually everyone in the stores and people you met on the street greeted you whole heartedly with “Merry Christmas!” not, “Happy Holidays”. Christmas wishes were just that…Christmas wishes…plain and simple. Nobody walked on eggshells afraid they’d offend someone else with their joyful greetings. They just extended to their fellow man expressions of goodness, happiness and Christmas spirit.
The people we meet and our experiences in life help to ultimately shape our faith. Religion is personal, faith should be upheld as sacred and the beliefs of others should be respected. It’s a fact that people never agree about everything and that’s OK. We can agree to disagree but still love each other.
I will always wish you a ‘Merry Christmas’ but then, I’m old fashioned. I like the America I grew up in and that our service men and women have fought to preserve.
I liked growing up when those ‘old days’ of Christmas enveloped you; when you were caught up in family gatherings…when the secrecy of a box all taped up made you shake and rattle it in an attempt to figure out the treasure inside.
To me, Christmas will always be the biggest birthday celebration ever and a challenge but unmatched single influence for good in this world. It will always remind me of happy times and loving parents that showed my sister and I love that money can’t buy. And, it will remind me of giving, sharing and sacrifice.
In the weeks to come, I will think more and more about ‘back when’. I will remember with fondness what life was like. I’ll think of all of our veterans, retired, active and reserve service men and women and of their childhood memories too. I will hope that their impressions of this spirit filled holiday will be embraced in the years to come.
Merry Christmas United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Air Force! Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us; for the times you spent your Christmas holidays far from home, loving our country, defending our safety and our honor. Your sacrifices are not forgotten.
If you have a special story about Christmas while serving our country, I’d like to hear from you. Perhaps we can share it with others to keep the blessing going. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and stay tuned…