To have enough money to buy Christmas gifts for our family, Bill would accept a preaching engagement in late November or early December. Even with that, our gifts were not elaborate. In this accompanying photo the kids (LtoR: Billy, Becky, John, Tommy) are holding plastic horses with cowboy and Indian. Another photo would show one of them holding the rubber Gumby toy figure. I recall such toys as Mr. Potato Head, Matchbox cars, baking sets, wood-burning tools, and the popular-at-the-time board games.
When we lived in Mississippi and had only one small child, we traveled to New Orleans for Christmas Eve to be with the Cokers, and then to Mobile for Christmas Day to visit the Lairds. Later we made the long trip from Kentucky to visit family over the holidays, but not every year.
As the kids got older we developed such traditions on Christmas Eve as drinking eggnog and eating cookies after we sang carols around the piano. “We Three Kings” is the one carol most remembered, for each son sang a stanza. Then Bill would read the Christmas story from the Bible. Later we found a neat rendition of the story by Walter Wangerin, Jr. that Bill used for Christmas Eve service at church.
The kids recall that they could not go downstairs on Christmas morning before their parents were awake and ready. That took patience on everyone’s part. I’ve learned that some would peak at presents very early, but at least one did not prefer to do that. They did not like it when Christmas would fall on a Sunday, for that meant we not only went to church, but would not open presents until we returned home.
Breakfast also had a tradition: omelets made by Bill, taking orders for how many eggs and what to include. Some years I had baked a sweet crown roll (monkey bread). The traditional Christmas dinner included turkey and cornbread dressing. But the favorite “leftover” has become the turkey gumbo we make later that week. All in all, Christmases Past provide good memories.