Encouragement, Life Is Beautiful

That 70s Christmas…

I had some talented guest writers this week. Hopefully you learned a lot and were entertained, as was I. To round out the week it feels only appropriate that I would share what Christmas looks like in my family. Growing up, I was the youngest of four children and I wasn’t close in age to my siblings (my siblings being 6, 10 and 12 years my seniors). But somehow it worked and my parents made sure of it.

Christmas was always a magical time for me growing up, thanks to the thoughtfulness and careful planning of my Mom specifically. Her gift was making people feel like a million bucks, special and treasured. So when a holiday rolled around, it was her time to shine, and she did it magnificently.

One of the holiday things she was most “famous” for was her Christmas cookies. She spent untold hours baking leading up to Christmas (leading up to any holiday, really; she baked for everything). Her banana bars which are now my specialty and cutout cookies ruled the cookie tray. Very labor-intensive, my Mom usually enlisted one or more of us to help her frost the cutout cookies. Each ball on Santa’s hat and cuff of his boot were frosted in the appropriate color and the kitchen table would be laden with bowls of frosting and tools of the trade…spoons, knives, and toothpicks for the finer details. And they were delicious, our collective favorites.


My sister and I frosting (eating) the cutout cookies

My sister and I frosting (eating) the cutout cookies


My Mom was very frugal and admirably selfless so Christmas was a rare occasion where we could spoil her a little even though she’d fight it:

“I don’t need anything.”

“Don’t spend your money on me.”

“Well, I could use a new kitchen timer.”

She’d only give in to our pleadings for gift ideas by offering an option that could be used in the household. She never asked for anything just for her. My Dad would always place an envelope on a branch of our live Christmas tree, usually cut down in our own back woods, and it would simply say “Mona” in his handwriting. We all knew what it was:  a card with cash in it for my Mom and its only stipulation was she had to spend it on herself. Dad was clever. This expression of love is still one of my fondest Christmas memories.

*    *    *    *    *

On Christmas Eve, we all piled in the car to travel to Christmas Eve service, at our church across the road. The candlelight service really enveloped me with the spirit of Christmas. During this service, I felt peace, being surrounded by soft candlelight, moving hymns, and family.

After the service, as a family we’d drive around town and look in awe at all the pretty Christmas lights adorning homes. Then we’d returned to our home, change out of our pretty Christmas attire, and relax (or wrap your presents if you’re my procrastinating brother) and enjoy the delicious cookies Mom so lovingly labored over.

My siblings and I, somewhere in the 70s.

My siblings and I, somewhere in the 70s.

Christmas morning, I was wonderstruck. Usually, I’d wake up around 3 a.m. and have to use the bathroom, or at least that was the excuse I used so I could check to see if Santa had been by. In the dark of night, somehow a trace of light reflected off the tinsel and foil icicles that dripped from the tree, providing just enough exposure to reveal the buffet of gifts encircling the tree. I swear I can remember gasping in pure delight and I’d usually awaken my sister and share the good news. Sometimes she’d come see for herself and then we’d tiptoe back to bed, attempt to sleep, and gleefully await morning.

In my “older” years, tween onto adulthood while Mom was still on Earth, Christmas morning was serenely magical for me still. I’d usually rise first along with Mom and we’d sit and enjoy hot tea steeping in delicate China teacups by the light of the tree, serenaded by soft Christmas music dangling in the background. These moments I treasured and I treasure them even now. It was as if time stood still in those minutes before the house became awake and active. There was an almost holy feeling of complete peace, thanks to the preparations of my mother.  The theme throughout the season was always the same: Jesus.

Mom always set the dining room table for the holidays (we used the kitchen table for “regular” dining). She’d use her beautiful China, polished silver, and all the fine serving dishes she reserved for such days as this. She’d read from the Bible and as we’d gather in the name of the Reason for the Season and eat breakfast and opened our table gifts, and would do so again later in the day once the feast she’d worked so hard and lovingly to prepare was set before us on that same perfectly-dressed table.

There are loved ones not physically here with us any more. They won’t be at our Christmas table. I won’t choose the present that’s “just right” for them. But every year at Christmas time, I remember them especially and how much they gave in years past. And what they gave had little to do with presents. I am blessed with rich memories of loved ones, laughter, traditions, many that I carry on with my children today. Every year, my babies hear about what we did “when I was a kid” and I like to think they can feel some of those warm memories of their grandparents who are in Heaven.

My sister & I, along with my parents and grandparents.

My sister & I, along with my parents and grandparents. (My apologies for my hair…it was the 80’s by then and that’s my only excuse).

Merry Christmas to you. I pray that you are surrounded by cherished loved ones, delicious food (even if it’s not calorie-free!), warm memories, and new memories in the making!


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  • Reply CeeCee James December 12, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Lovely post! Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Bethany December 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I love your post! I’m not going to comment whether or not if I happened to be alive during the 70’s. I have been thinking so much about my Christmas memories growing-up. I seriously struggle in that area. There aren’t many to choose from. Yet, I think that’s why I strive SO hard now, as a mom, giving the gift of treasured moments for my kids. They may not be perfect, but they will be remembered.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com December 13, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Bethany, I try hard to recreate that magical, peaceful feeling my Mom created, for my children. I don’t know if I do it but hopefully they’re blessed by my efforts! 🙂

  • Reply Julie Willis-Jones December 13, 2014 at 2:40 am

    How wonderful to finally hear about your favourite Christmas . Mums (or Moms) are special people. Sometimes we forget the power we have to make memories & bring joy to our families. Thanks for the reminder Melanie. XX

  • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com December 13, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Julie, my Mom has been gone 18 years this year and my Dad, 10. They were so family-oriented and special people, that their memories and they foundation they raised us with stays with me every day. There’s probably not a day goes by that I don’t recall some memory of one of them to my kids. I think (hope) that they feel a little like they recognize my Mom in the stories even though they never met her. Merry Christmas and thanks again for your wonderful story too!

  • Reply Lisa Rios December 15, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Wonderful article. You just took us back to the 70s Christmas with your great way of presentation with some great photos as well. Old memories always stays for ever, bringing us abundant joys to celebrate every year.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com December 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

      The 1970’s were a fun (and fashion-challenged!) time to grow up. I’m so thankful for these memories, especially since my parents are gone. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Lisa!

  • Reply Kristi Miller December 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    What a sweet way to still “spoil” your mom. She sounds like she was a generous and loving spirit… I think she passed it on to her daughter!
    I also have fond memories of making Christmas cookies and waking up during the night, sneaking around to see what appeared overnight.
    Such lovely memories and traditions. Thank you for sharing and have a very, Merry Christmas!

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com December 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Kristi! It means more than you know when someone can catch a glimpse of who my parents were through me. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • Reply Kenzel December 15, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    My Mom’s been gone 31 years. Dad’s been gone 28. Seems strange to even admit that, probably because I have struggled to find “Christmas” recently. That’s why I finally started “searching” for it on the blog. And Voila! When we Ask, God is faithful to answer. <3

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com December 15, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      I miss my parents so. I don’t think we ever stop needing them, no matter what our age. I’m blessed by warm memories and I will pray that you’re able to find the spirit of Christmas in some loving memories this year as well. <3

  • Reply Jen December 24, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It was beautiful

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