The Hammonton Gazette
Perspective: Christmas from years ago
Last year, you were kind enough to allow me to share with you another one of my favorite Christmas Memories, “Downtown ... in my hometown ... at Christmas.”
If you’re “keeping score,” here is a brief “recap” of my favorite Christmas Memories:
2019: “Christmas at the local Mart”
2018: “Christmas, Family and Trains”
2017: “Christmas Eve with Aunt Louise”
2016: “Taking the Train to New York City with Family Members just before Christmas”
2015: “Visiting the Philadelphia Department Stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas”
This year, it’s “Christmas Eve ... with Family, Friends and Santa Claus!”
Christmas Eve! ... the entire day before Christmas Day! ... the joyous festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ! For many years, Christmas Eve for our family and friends began with dinner at Aunt Louise and her husband, Uncle Charlie’s house (the topic of my 2017 Christmas Memory). Aunt Louise was one of my mom’s sisters. Christmas Eve at Aunt Louise’s was a special event every year, featuring, of course, the “seven fishes” for all guests of Aunt Louise. However, my preferred “food of choice” on Christmas Eve was pizza, and still is ... pizza! After Aunt Louise’s Christmas Eve “Food Festival,” we drove a few miles across town to the home of Aunt Angie, her husband, Uncle Pat and their children. Aunt Angie was my mother’s niece, but we always referred to her as “Aunt Angie,” because, out of respect, it was the right thing to do. By the time we arrived at Aunt Angie’s, her family had already finished their dinner, and additional relatives and friends began to arrive for her “small gathering.” Now ... her “small gathering” could have, at any given moment, exceeded 40 guests, with visitors ‘coming and going’ throughout the evening! Aunt Angie’s dining room table (and all other pieces of dining room furniture with available space!), were “overflowing” with various desserts! The desserts included, but were certainly not limited to, an assortment of cakes, pies, cookies (Italian, pizzelle, thumbprint, pinwheel, sugar, and ricotta, just to name a few!), cannoli, snacks and fruit, along with punch, soda, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Those desserts would be the envy of the finest bakers!
Of all of the Christmas Eve’s spent at Aunt Angie’s, there is one particular Christmas Eve that stands out in my mind and my memory, and here it is.
. . .
The snow began falling early in the day on Christmas Eve. By dinner time, it was a “winter wonderland,” with the snow continuing to fall throughout the evening, overnight and into Christmas Day, affording us a true and unforgettable White Christmas! It was unknown at the time, but several weeks prior to Christmas Eve, Aunt Angie had contacted Santa Claus, and asked if he could make an “early” Christmas Eve visit to her house for all of her guests. Around eight o’ clock, we heard sleigh bells outside of Aunt Angie’s house. Aunt Angie, along with a few of the other adults present, began to turn off all of the lights inside the house, so that we could see what the commotion was! We gazed out onto the lawn, and there he was! ... Santa Claus! ... in his red suit! ... with his sleigh bells ringing! ... and his sack full of toys flung over his shoulder! His “larger than life” presence was silhouetted against the falling snow!
Everyone in the house chanted over and over with excitement: “there he is! ... Santa Claus! ... it’s him! ... it’s Santa Claus!” It was a thrill beyond belief, which words alone cannot fully express! Santa proceeded to circle the perimeter of the house, while ringing his bells! Then ... just as fast as he appeared ... he was gone! ... obviously to rendezvous with his nine reindeer and his sleigh filled with gifts, to set out on his magical Christmas Eve journey! We went to just about every window in the house to search for Santa, but all that was left were his perfect boot prints in the new fallen snow! The Santa visit, which only lasted about 10 minutes, was such a mesmerizing experience! (Note: as you can see, my memory of this momentous event is still incredibly vivid, as if it was just last Christmas!). A short while after Santa’s visit, Aunt Angie’s incredibly fascinating Christmas Eve celebration drew to a close. We exchanged Christmas greetings, said our “goodbyes,” and headed for home. It should be noted that for the remainder of that entire Christmas season, Aunt Angie was our hero! After all ... she knew Santa Claus!
Upon arriving home, we spent a few minutes enjoying our Christmas tree and decorations. A short time later, Mom announced that it was time to get ready for bed! We “washed up,” got into our Christmas pajamas, kissed Mom and Dad goodnight, said our prayers and jumped into bed! Mom reminded us that if anyone was awake, Santa Claus would not visit. Wow! ... the thought of Santa not visiting us?! We could never let that happen! While lying in bed, reflecting on a very exciting Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day ... which was just a few short hours away ... we eventually fell asleep.
I want to thank you for allowing me to share another one of my Christmas memories with you. Aunt Louise, Uncle Charlie, Aunt Angie, Uncle Pat, Mom and Dad, and so many other relatives and friends are no longer with us.
As I reminisce, I am taken back to that very special Christmas Eve, along with the many others and just how truly wonderful they were. Those beloved moments created by our family and friends, will last a lifetime and have become even more priceless through the years.
Christmas Eve at Aunt Angie and Uncle Pat’s, with the falling snow and Santa Claus making a special visit, is truly nothing less than a moment “frozen in time.” To this very day, I find it difficult to find the proper words that can effectively describe how much I will forever cherish those precious and magical Christmas remembrances.
There is no doubt that Christmas is definitely the most joyous time of the year. It’s also one of the best times to make someone else’s day a little brighter, especially during these highly unusual life situations. This Christmas holiday season, please take a moment of your time to visit a relative or friend who is special to you, especially someone you haven’t seen or spoken with in a while. If you cannot visit, a phone call will work (which is more personal than a text message or email). You can rest assured it will not only mean a lot to the person you reached out to, but will most certainly make you feel good, too. As an added bonus, your thoughtfulness and kindness will evoke the true meaning of Christmas.
In closing, please accept my sincerest gratitude for your continued friendship, interest and support. It is most greatly appreciated.
Merry Christmas to you and your family. May all your wishes and dreams come true.
I would like to dedicate my 2021 Christmas Message, my 2021 Christmas Memories, and the entire 2021 Santa Express season in memory of my brother, Frank.
Thank you, Frank, for all of the truly wonderful Christmases we shared throughout our childhood and into adulthood.
God bless you. May you rest in peace and eternal happiness. Merry Christmas, Frank.