Williams Family Christmas

I want to tell you a story of Christmases long ago. Now not as long ago as Baby Jesus. Not even as long ago as Ralphie and his Red Rider BB gun. This was a time I remember well, though it was years before you were born. It is a story of Christmases when your parents or, for some of you, your grandparents - were kids like you are now.

In those days, our family - the Williams family - would gather every Christmas Eve at Grandpa and Grandma Williams' house up the road in Fountain City. On Christmas Eve their house was packed with the growing family and their Christmas celebration.

We arrived after dark on Christmas Eve. Sometimes there was snow on the ground. Often, there were stars shining overhead to remind us of the star the wise men followed to find the Christ child.

Inside in the living room, packages done up in fancy paper and bows waited under the Christmas tree and extended out from the tree so far you could barely walk through the room. You could hardly find a place to sit that wasn't on top of a present. And all along the fireplace hung stockings - one for each child.

In my first Christmases with the family, the cousins (the grandchildren of Grandpa and Grandma Williams) were dressed in matching clothes made by Grandma Williams. One year it was matching long, red dresses for the girls and red pants for Todd, the only boy at that time.

Dinner included lots of dishes and lots of desserts, because Grandma Williams tried to have everybody's favorite. With all the delicious food and family and the promise of presents, it was very exciting. So exciting that one year, little Todd got sick with anticipation and missed most of it, lying in the bedroom.

After dinner we slipped on coats and made our way to the church just a few blocks away to celebrate the birth of Christ. Then we came back and opened the presents, always starting from youngest to oldest. Before long that huge pile of presents became gifts of toys and clothes and games and books amid heaps of torn-up wrapping paper.

Well, years came and went. The family grew. More babies were born, grew up, and had babies themselves. In-laws who came into the family were treated just like sons and daughters. Step-kids were always just kids, with no distinction made that I ever saw. Grandpa and Grandma Williams taught us that family is family.

There got to be so many people that everyone couldn't exchange presents with everyone else. So, we started the White Elephant game that still goes on today. I don’t know how the pinatas started. But they did, and now they are a tradition, too.

And now the family is so big that we don't fit in a house and have to meet here. And rarely can all of us be here together. But those of us who remember those Christmas Eves in Fountain City won't ever forget them. And we won't forget the lessons we learned from them, either.

That family is precious. Families take care of each other. Families stick together, even if we don't agree about everything. You have to love family. Seriously, it's kind of a requirement. And that's a good thing.

You are the children and grandchildren of those little kids in matching dresses and pants. You are the inheritors of those Christmases and that love and that sense of belonging. So if one of us oldsters talk to you when you don't really even know who we are, the reason is because we see you as belonging to our family. You belong to US. And we all belong to each other.
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Published on December 29, 2019 09:28 Tags: christmas, story
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