Christmas Memories

When I used to write Christmas cards, I was always late in writing them. I often ended up not sending them at all. I felt so guilty that I decided to not send any Christmas cards, some 10 years ago.

I also stopped getting a tree each year. Our family used to go to Christmas tree farms to buy our trees and decorated them while playing Christmas carols on the stereo. We did these rituals to help our children have happy Christmas memories. Now that they’re grown, married and have their own children, we no longer see the need for a Christmas tree.

I have many fond memories of Christmas. I vividly remember being woken by the sound of our church choir members singing Christmas carols on our doorstep, and finding my Christmas present: a bar of chocolate or a small toy car on my pillow. (This was during the Korean War when our family couldn’t afford expensive presents.)

Young people weren’t allowed to date because Asian societies were pretty closed at that time – Christmas was the only time when girls and boys were allowed to get together and have fun. I have a fond memory of myself, at the threshold of puberty, both shy and excited, watching older boys and girls play games. I felt very happy.

Every Christmas Eve, the Sunday School kids staged a Christmas play. We couldn’t afford to buy or make costumes, so we used our pajamas and our parents’ clothes. The only musical instruments available were a foot-pedal organ or a piano. But entertainment was so scarce at that time that the Christmas pageant was something we looked forward to all year and I have many fond memories of them.

What do children today remember about Christmas when they grow up? I suspect that their memories may not be as happy as mine because they’re already blessed with so much. Christmas presents are among the many they receive throughout the year. Christmas events are just a part of the many activities they’re involved with.

Happy memories are usually associated with difficulties. You tend to remember accident-filled vacations with more fondness. I have many happy memories about Christmas because we lived in hard times. So in a way, kids raised in affluent societies are deprived, because they may not have as many fond memories as poor kids. Being poor may not be as bad after all.

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