Dicy McCullough: Christmas memories 2012

  • Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2012 6:39 p.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, December 24, 2012 11:32 a.m.

Every December, it’s the same story. Teachers and students alike anxiously await the day when school’s out for the Christmas holidays. While counting down the days this year, first grade students at Knollwood Elementary School learned about Christmas customs and traditions around the world, even sharing some of their own.

Many said they enjoy watching Christmas movies, with favorites such as “Home Alone,” “The Polar Express,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “Rudolph.” Others talked about going to church, while some said they enjoy shopping with their moms and dads, buying presents for families who couldn’t afford to buy for themselves.

Marty Bontumasi, a first-grade teacher at Knollwood, also shared some of her favorite family traditions. She said when she was a little girl, she loved going into the woods with her daddy to look for just the right tree. Choosing a tree, they would then tie a red ribbon on a limb, making it easy to spot when coming back to chop down. Especially excited the year they found a bird’s nest, they knew a bird’s nest in a Christmas tree is supposed to bring good luck.

Mrs. Bontumasi said it wasn’t until she was much older that she realized not everyone found their Christmas trees in the woods. It came as a shock to her when she realized people actually bought them at the store.

After hearing Marty’s story, I asked several of my friends what traditions they remembered as a child. Garrett White, a student at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, said he loved playing with his cousins on Christmas Eve at his Grandpa and Grandma Overcash’s house in Mooresville. His mother, Debbie White, said the cousins had so much fun playing together they never wanted to leave. The parents solved that problem one year, though, by going outside and ringing some jingle bells. Thinking it was Santa, the children almost beat their parents to the cars, knowing if they wanted Santa to bring presents they had better get home and go to bed.

Another friend, Sue Richardson said she too loved going to her grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve. When she was a little girl, her Grandma and Grandpa Barber lived on Long Ferry Road beside of Trading Ford Baptist Church. During those years, part of her family tradition was going next door for the Christmas Eve service.

Sue laughs remembering her Uncle Grady (her mother’s brother) and the stunts he used to play on the four girl cousins. One Christmas Eve while playing in their grandmother’s pantry, the girls heard a scratching on the window. It scared them so much they went running into the “parlor” to tell their parents someone was outside. About that time, Grady opened the side door, saying he had just seen Santa. The girls with eyes wide open froze in their tracks, not knowing what to say.

Sue said she loves thinking about the good old days, wishing times were like that now. When asked how things have changed, she said, “Children used their imaginations more back then, playing games of pretend. Even the parents seemed to enjoy that kind of fun.”

She gave the example of looking out the window one Christmas morning after it had snowed to see sled tracks everywhere, but no footprints. Her mom and dad told her the tracks were made by Santa’s sleigh. To this day, she doesn’t know how they managed that bit of magic.

While families may celebrate Christmas with different traditions, it seems the one common thread is spending time with family and friends. Here’s hoping your family enjoys some old traditions this year, possibly even starting a few new ones. And in the words of Santa as he drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.

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