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Growth Spurts: The Joys of Christmas Past

The Christmas season is upon us, which means that there may be a lot of hurrying and scurrying around your house. Things can get pretty hectic and high-stress this time of year, and there is a felt pressure that demands that everything be perfect. We know that this is unattainable, yet we continue to strive. So I thought I’d help us all gain a little perspective by asking some of my friends to think back to what they remembered most about the Christmas season when they were children. Take a look at what they had to say…

“New pajamas. Life was simple.”–Angela Bailey

“Riding around looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve after dinner and eating Christmas breakfast next door at our Grandmother’s house in our PJs.”–Wendy Copeland

“Every Christmas my mom would buy a very small living Christmas tree that she would put in our entryway. She had several small ornaments that she would wrap up and put in a basket. Every morning before school, my brother and I would each get to unwrap an ornament and hang it on the tree. It sounds so simple, but we looked forward to that every year. It was a special tree just for my brother and me. We would try to anticipate what ornament was in which wrapping and find our favorite ones.”–Megan Voos

“Santa came to our house every Christmas Eve right after dinner. Pop would call him on the phone, then we (my brothers and I) would go upstairs to our bedroom. There would be a knock on the front door. Then suddenly we’d hear someone bellow a “ho, ho, ho” while stomping on the floor around the Christmas tree in the living room.I would be so afraid Santa would actually climb the stairs and open the bedroom where we were…. I would’ve pee’d in my pants. Anyway, suddenly the downstairs would become silent, and mom would yell to us that we could come downstairs. Santa was gone. Of course, the room would be littered with presents, and the rest of the night would be a blast…all the way through our church’s candlelight service at 11. I realized early on that Santa had a German accent just like Pop’s. For the life of me, though, I never figured out why.”–Gary Meise

“My first cool car. My dad found it in a dumpster, sanded it all down, repainted it, and it was one of my most memorable Christmas gifts.”–Randy Dean

“My mom made a countdown calendar with a piece a candy each day. I always loved seeing how many days were left. I use the same one with my kids now.”–Paige Smith

“Christmas Eve, we’d go to my grandparents’ house and have a huge Polish dinner (12 dishes). My favorite was the perogies (My aunt, my grandma, my mom, and I would spend all day making them one day before Christmas Eve; we would have a blast making them and got to eat the ones that busted open), but then after dinner on Christmas Eve, Santa would come. We’d hear the bells ringing outside and his hohoho’s and sometimes sounds from the deer on the roof, and then he was at the door, and we’d get to open some presents with Santa. (Never realized it when I was little, but my dad or uncle would always end up having to run to the store to get something after dinner.) After we left grandma’s, we’d go home and then go to midnight mass.”–Beth Carter

“When we were little, all the cousins would put on a Christmas Pageant for the family. My brother would read the Christmas story from the Bible, and we would act out the parts, costumes and all. My youngest cousin, Rachel, played the part of baby Jesus. At the end, as she laid in the makeshift manger, she would sit up and say, ‘Let’s do it again!’”–Elizabeth Bowen *Read more from Elizabeth at the end of this article.

“I always loved the Christmas story before opening presents and that mom and dad let us pick one Christmas gift to open on Christmas Eve.”–Jenni Smith

“Going to church on Christmas Eve, where they served hot chocolate during the service; then off to dinner at grandma’s house.”–Lori Sanders

“The day I got a Nintendo 64. My family did Santa Claus, but Dad always labeled the best gifts as ‘From: Mom and Dad’ and saved them for last. He figured if Santa wasn’t spending the money, Santa wasn’t getting the credit!”–David Moss

“Christmas in the Smokies. Mom brought a few decorations to decorate the condo, and it even snowed. It was such a special time. Probably one of the reasons the Smokey Mountains is one of my happy places.”–Kim Cox

As for my own childhood Christmas memories, these are the things that come to mind: Daddy reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever aloud (and laughing so hard that we couldn’t understand what he was reading); listening to Christmas music on eight-tracks and cassettes; having Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents’ house with my aunt, uncle, and cousins; arranging the ceramic Nativity pieces on top of our piano; hanging our crocheted Christmas stockings, made by my grandmother; watching classic holiday movies with my family; singing my favorite Christmas carols; sitting by the fireplace (sometimes a little too closely…); and staying up late cooking and talking with Mama.

Parents, it is so easy for us to get caught up in buying the best gifts, having the best decorations, making it to all the holiday parties, and the like. But think about what you most remember about Christmas as a child…and then consider what you want your own children to remember.

May your days be merry and bright, and may you create wonderful–simple–memories for your children to treasure this Christmas season!


Carrie Bevell Partridge loves the traditions that she and her family share at Christmas, and they fully embrace all the “partridge in a pear tree” jokes.


*By Elizabeth Bowen…

Scripture: “In the same region, shepherds were stayingout in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.’ Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to people He favors!”

The Gospel of Luke 2:8-14 Devotion:

Our Christmas Eve family tradition when I was growing up was to have the children read aloud the Christmas Story from Luke 2. Sometimes we were allowed to hold real candles (I’m thankful we never burned the house down) and would usually end with a rendition of “Away in a Manger”. One special Christmas, our family drove to Abilene, Texas to spend the holiday with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My cousin Bryan decided this particular year that we would be acting out the Christmas story instead of just reading it. Since my cousin, Rachel, was the youngest at 2 ½ she was appointed to play the part of baby Jesus complete with her costume of swaddling clothes.

My older brother, Doug, was the narrator, my second brother, Stewart, played the part of a shepherd and Bryan was a Wiseman. They scrounged up bathrobes for their costumes, made head dresses out of pillowcases, and borrowed my aunt’s silver goblet as a “gift” for baby Jesus. We even put their giant poodle, Buffy, to work as a sheep. As the story was read, I carried Rachel in and “lay” her in the makeshift piano bench manger. Doug completed the scripture reading and before we could begin singing “Away in a Manger”, baby Jesus sat straight up and yelled “Let’s do it again!”

Through the years, we have often laughed about the memories of our play that Christmas Eve. As I have grown older, I see another side to Rachel’s humorous outburst. How blessed we are to have a God who sent this special child into the world, knowing that He would pay the ultimate price for us by dying on the cross in order that we might have eternal life. The important thing to me is that I know God gives us chance after chance to get things right and “do it again”. What a wonderful gift of Grace we celebrate this Christmas.


About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at and

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