Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Child by Janice Lewis Clark

Christmas is for children, and my childhood's long behind.
I have responsibilities that weigh upon my mind.
That lovely snow's a hazard; all the shopping is a chore;
Too much to do: there isn't time to let my spirit soar.

And yet, the Christmas carols strike a chord within my heart.
The scents of pine and candles make a flood of memories start.
All year I do my duty, seldom falter or complain,
But, oh, when Christmas comes, I yearn to be a child again.

I want to see the magic through the glitter and the glare.
I want to hear the angels singing in the frosty air.
I want to hear the story for the first time yet again,
How Jesus came from heaven to bring peace on earth to men.

I want to feel the wonder and the promise of His birth;
I want to know the simple joy He brought for all the earth.
Tomorrow I'll resume my place, a grown-up to the core,
But please, Lord, now it's Christmas, let me be a child once more.

                                                  Written December 1999
                                                  By Janice Lewis Clark

Ms. Clark puts the sights, sounds, scents and stories up front where they belong. This poem is a great reminder. 

My childhood Christmases were spent with both sets of grandparents - maternal on Christmas Eve, and paternal on Christmas Day or soon after.   How fortunate we were to have both sets of grandparents in our home town. We had my mother's parents to ourselves, as in our elementary age years, we were the only grandchildren who lived here.  All the rest of our cousins, aunts and uncles on that side of the family got to experience Gram and Grandpa coming to visit and staying over night.

Each year we would memorize our "piece" for the Sunday School Christmas program, which once was held on Christmas many years in the past.  My mother enjoys retelling
how "Hark How the Bells" was no longer a favorite carol of hers after practicing it so many times; and of the annual cold I had for our program, and of other happenings, like dresses pulled over heads, tears and "accidents" by youngsters who were not comfortable being up in the front.  Each year when I see the costumes and hear the children practicing their music, I am delightfully reminded of the many years of programs I've participated in.

On Christmas Eve, my family would go to church, which was packed to the rafters.  I remember rows of chairs set up in the back to seat the latecomers; my father ringing the bell, the Christmas gospel, choir music and each of us getting our own candle when singing Silent Night. Then we'd pile in the car and sing, "Over the River and Through the Woods," (no river or woods) to Gramma's house for dinner.  We usually made it through the meal, but could hardly contain our excitement as we waited somewhat impatiently for the dishes to be done so we could open our presents.  I wonder how many times we asked, "When are we going to open our presents?" or "Are you done yet?" Santa would come the next morning, so we tried to get to bed early, and not rise too early.  We even practiced who would get to go down the hall first, and who's room we would meet in when awake. Since it is dark in the morning in December, it must not have occurred to us one Christmas when we got up that it was in the middle of the night!  My parents must have just gone to bed. We were hurried back to bed by a startled father, each with a new doll or toy under our arms.

My two sisters and I, and our many cousins, went to our other grandparents to find our dollar bill in a special envelope on their tree. We never questioned why it was just a dollar.    They shared the simple joys of life with all of us through music, picnics and family gatherings. At Christmas, Grandpa would make his annual plum pudding and we hoped to be the lucky one to find a dime in our piece. Grandpa told us the winners were to do the dishes, but our fathers were the chosen dishwashers. Through the years we spent Christmas with our aunts, uncles and cousins where there was always a kid's table, singing the Grace, lots and lots of good food and lasting memories.

For me, the smells of mincemeat, gingerbread, French pork pie, plum pudding, saffron and cardamom breads "make a flood of memories" like for our poet, Janice Lewis Clark.  The holiday lights hung by our City crews and light displays all over town; the tall Christmas tree in our church sanctuary, and the lighted Christmas tree in the town square, snow on the ground, and a corsage on my coat are among the sights that bring me back in time. The sounds of the Salvation Army bells ringing, children's programs, a tenor voice, O Holy Night, and "Merry Christmas" said by visitors in our travels get my tears started.

I've heard the same story over and over and over - 55+ times - and yet, the message doesn't change.  Tho we have grown up, and as change comes with living, we can be sure that the message of Christmas is the same.  God became man to walk amongst us, to show his love to all who seek him.  May the peace that passes all understanding be yours this holiday season. 

1 comment:

  1. So happy that you are going to share your tea cup ministry with others in this blog. I am sure they will be bless just as those who heard them in the past were. Looking forward to reading more.