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Just a Thought

As I began putting up our Christmas decorations the other day, I started thinking about the holiday traditions or memories that I grew

up with. The annual Christmas caroling we did throughout our neighborhood or those popcorn balls "Santa" insisted on filling our stockings with but no one ever ate. Of course, everyone in my immediate family always brings up the memory of when I was little, I would become so overly excited on Christmas morning that I would work myself up to the point that I'd literally get sick. Thus, photos actually exist of me at four years old opening up my gifts with a bucket next to me. Yes, I can laugh at myself.

I then began thinking about the holiday traditions or memories my kids might reflect back on and relay to their kids someday. They might think about walking down to the center of town to watch our town's annual holiday parade and fireworks every year or the four of us watching the movie Scrooge each Christmas season.

Still, I think there's one tradition that will always ring in their minds and that's their grandfather reading Twas the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve night. The tradition actually began 57 years ago when my brother-in-law was born and 57 years later my father-in-law continues to read that story to his children, their spouses, and of course his 13 grandchildren who range from 12 years old to 28 years old.

It is a tradition this is never missed no matter where his family is; not because he demands

it but because everyone realizes something

would be missing without it. Each December 24, after evening Mass, the family gathers around Grandpa who sits on the floor surrounded by his grandchildren as he reads the story aloud. For those family members not able to be present, they either called in to listen or use video calling.

One year when my brother-in-law and his family were living in Japan, they insisted on calling in to hear my father-in-law read the

story that has become a heartfelt custom in the Sanford family. Even my Marine nephew who was stationed down south last year, called in to hear his grandfather recite this special poem that was written nearly 200 years ago.

Whether your celebrations revolve around

the Festival of Lights, the birth of Jesus, a jolly

old fella dressed in red or something entirely different, I hope this holiday season has brought joyful memories and traditions that are once again carried on. And for those who will celebrate on December 25—on Christmas Eve I'm extending to you the same thoughts I'll hear my father-in-law say that evening, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."


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