Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Memories

By Linda Goodman, Storyteller

These memories are nuggets waiting to become full blown family Christmas stories.

Christmas Memories 1979, Portsmouth, VA. Seven year old Melanie and I celebrated Christmas for the first time since her birth. I remember how excited she was to show her friends our first Christmas tree. Bought at People’s Drug store, it stood 24 inches tall and came in a box with ornaments and lights. I placed it in the center of an end table. Her friends were speechless. They could not understand why Melanie was so happy to have such a small tree.

Christmas Memories  1982  Melanie’s first new bicycle! Phil and I were engaged at the time, and he thought Melanie should have a bike that wasn’t rusted. Melanie opened all her presents, and she was happy with all of them. She didn’t think there were any more to open. Phil sent her into the kitchen to get him a glass of water. She came back with the water and asked, “Whose bicycle is that?” You should have seen the look on her face, an amazing mixture of delight and surprise, when Phil told her, “It’s yours.”

Christmas Memories  Every year I waited to hear my bother Allen’s Super Baby stories on Christmas Eve. Super Baby could do anything! He saved Christmas every year as he battled the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. My mother made us go to bed at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve. Of course, we couldn’t sleep that early; but we weren’t bored. Allen’s stories kept us entertained.

Christmas Memories  1969 - My brother Lee's first Christmas after coming home from Viet Nam. I remember all the horror etched upon his face; but we were happy because he was home and safe. We were certain he would bounce back quickly, surrounded by the people who loved him. We had no idea how long that war would be fought in his head. We had no clue what horrors he had witnessed. We were just relieved to have him with us.

Christmas Memories 1983  Christmas in Bay City, Michigan brought about 3 firsts: our first Christmas as a family (Phil and I had gotten married in May); our first trip to actually chop down a live tree at a local Christmas tree farm (which served hot apple cider and popcorn balls to everyone looking for a tree); and our first white Christmas. We also visited the little town of Frankenmuth, which was a cozy winter wonderland at Christmas time.  It took my breath away. I have never had such a perfect Christmas.

Christmas Memories  1958-1970 Christmas Eve services at Asbury United Methodist Church on Deep Creek Boulevard in Portsmouth, Virginia. At the age of 6, I started out as an angel in the chorus or our Christmas pageant and worked myself up to narrator by age 10. At 12 years of age, I was invited to join the junior choir, which participated in the Christmas Eve Service every year. Whenever I was at that church, I felt like I had dozens of parents and hundreds of brothers and sisters. The people not only talked about the love of Christ, they lived it. Asbury was closed in 2014, and I was able to attend its last service. That church and its members will always live in my heart.

Christmas Memories 1970s Visiting Coleman's Nursery's Winter Wonder Land in Portsmouth, VA. The long lines of people began this yearly ritual on the day after Thanksgiving and did not let up until after Christmas. It was Santa's workshop brought to life, with a special place of honor for the Nativity. Melanie and I would spend hours there, studying each of the many scenes. Sadly, a fire destroyed this much loved Christmas landmark. Later, the parts that could be salvaged were put on display in downtown Portsmouth, but it was not the same. Now all that's left are the memories.

Christmas Memories 1998-2012 Christmas dinner with my niece Sandi Lowery's family, my sister Evelyn Wright, and my niece Rachel Davis. They dined with us every Thanksgiving & Christmas while we lived in Richmond. Sometimes my daughter, Melanie Goodman Deal, and her family were able to join us. Today I am missing them all. I can't even look at the green beans (Phil's special recipe) without choking up.

Christmas Memories  1999 Richmond, VA  Due to religious convictions, I raised my daughter, Melanie, to believe that there was no Santa.  She resented that. In fact, when she grew up and had a child of her own, I walked into her hospital room, my arms reaching for my new granddaughter, Morgan, and Melanie clutched her baby close, growling, “This child will believe in Santa Clause!” What could I do but play along?  And I must admit that when I awakened on the Christmas day that Morgan was three years old, the first year she was aware of all the hoopla, I was thrilled to hear her sit up in bed and loudly call out, “Did he come?” Then I watched in awe as she walked downstairs and entered the wonderland of toys that her pawpaw and her daddy had assembled for her.  She went from one to the other, hugging her new doll, playing her new keyboard, unpacking her tea set….. Finally laughing in delight as she spotted the empty plate and glass that had held cookies and milk for Santa. She was speechless when she found the letter that Santa had left for her. She was smiling and crying at the same time as her mother read the letter to her. I must admit that I shed a few tears of my own as I watched her big blue eyes widen with wonder.

Christmas Memories  1962 Opening presents around the tree with my family. I rarely ever got what I wanted, but I still felt blessed. My two best friends had been abandoned by their fathers. Their mothers had to go on welfare until they found jobs (that paid much less than was needed to support their families). I, on the other hand, had two parents who loved their kids and each other. I also had been taken in, along with several other children in my neighborhood, by a church that treated kids who attended church by themselves like family. Without the examples set and the love offered by my family and my church, who knows how my life would have progressed. God made sure that I ended up in the right place. There are no coincidences.


  1. I love all of your Christmas highlights. So personal and touching as I read through them! The no Santa story would make a really wonderful one to tell at your events! (If you could get through it without choking up!!)

  2. I have a hard time booking this story because of the no Santa theme. It is a touching story, though, and it does produce tears sometimes.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing family stories. They keep us connected!!! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

    1. That is what I hope for, Sandi. Thanks for reading.

  4. I enjoyed the reading. It was like a family history lesson. It answered some questions that I had been pondering.