Contemplating what to write about this week, I realized this is my last On My Mind before Christmas. Not really being into the season this year has apparently let much of it slip by without much notice.
That’s too bad because I generally enjoy Christmas, at least after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness is past. In perhaps the only positive note of the pandemic it eliminated those insane masses assaulting each other in the stores as the Thanksgiving turkeys have barely cooled.
Christmas still holds magic for me, a holdover from my childhood. The holidays were happy times in the Allison household as I was growing up. As Christmas day approached holiday music echoed through the house, records stacked on the old turntable in the living room playing carols one after the other for hours. Hearing those same carols today brings back warm memories indeed.
At our home the season definitely was one for the sweet tooth. Grandpa Allison, retired from operating his restaurant, worked part-time at Ramey’s bakery in Bryan. Throughout the year Grandpa kept us well stocked in rolls, cakes and pies, but Christmas was even better. The pumpkin pies were special, and nothing could top the Christmas cookies that he brought to us by the boxful.
Thoughts of those sugar cookies still make my mouth water. Cut in the shapes of bells, trees, stars, stockings and Santas, they were generously topped in red, yellow, green and blue sprinkles. They seemed unlimited, and I imagine I ate them by the dozen.
In what seemed like a Christmas miracle years ago, Diane baked a batch of Christmas cookies that reincarnated Grandpa’s treats. Diane had gotten the recipe years ago from the grandmother of a friend, and to this day I wonder if that grandma had some connection to Ramsey’ bakery.
I vividly recall watching the stacks of wrapped presents grow under and around our Christmas tree, and I would carefully examine each one bearing my name, trying to guess what was inside. Even today I still check out my wrapped presents when they appear under the tree.
More so than Christmas Day itself, I especially treasure Christmas Eve. As a child I savored the anticipation this evening brought, even more than the day itself. My childhood Christmas Eves involved our family trip to Aunt Alice Marie and Uncle Bob’s in Bryan. It was very special when Aunt Pat and Uncle Don were visiting from Oklahoma, getting to see my Tulsa and my Bryan cousins.
The evening ended with the Christmas Eve church service, a tradition that has continued. For years we joined Mom and Dad for their church service, although last year we were part of the service at our own church, Pulaski United Methodist.
The church service this year looks to be a casualty of the pandemic, a true letdown.
Even worse is the prospect of not gathering in the living room of Mom and Dad’s home on Christmas Day. Since our family moved to Stryker in 1964, I have spent part of every single Christmas Day in that very living room. As much as I love that tradition and priceless family gathering, I treasure Mom and Dad’s health even more, so this year I’m not planning to possibly expose them to the virus.
A phone call may be better than nothing, a blessing really, but will be a poor, poor substitute for celebrating in person.
Actually I don’t know what Christmas Day will hold for us. Perhaps it will be just Diane and I opening our gifts together. Perhaps we will have our sons and grandson over briefly, keeping our distance and skipping the traditional meal.
At any rate it will be a far cry from Christmas as I’ve always known it. All we can do, I suppose, is make the best of it – and hope that next year will bring a true return to the merriment of the holiday.
So please be safe, make the best of the situation, and I pray you enjoy a merry Christmas as best you can.
Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com