Christmas is in the air and in the heart

The Examiner

Christmas is less than one week away. It doesn’t even seem possible.

What is Christmas, to you?

Diane Mack

Is Christmas a church service, holiday movie, play, music performance or dinner out? I believe this year Christmas is outside light displays.

If there is anything I have noticed this year it is the numerous homes decorated with Christmas lights. I have never seen so many Christmas light decorations. It feels warm and wonderful.

At Christmas time, for almost 30 years, my Pennsylvania family has traveled to Delaware for a family get-together. I’ve lived long distance for most of that time and have only been able to attend a few of the Delaware family parties.

Anyway, my youngest sister Lindy and her family invite the entire family to their Delaware home, which is just south of the Pennsylvania border. Traveling to Delaware has remained a wonderful family tradition among the Pennsylvania family.

During this annual holiday reunion, the family holds a potluck and a short musical program on the first or second Sunday of December.

I especially recall the Delaware reunion of 2009, because my sister let me listen by cell phone to the evening fun.

As in years past, Lindy made her time-honored soups, cream of broccoli and clam chowder. Lindy and hubby Buck also prepared cheese and meat trays, with ham, roast beef, and turkey.

Let me share the rest of the evening activities, from my journal.

“I heard the family raving about the ‘sub salad.’ I could hear ... they really enjoyed it.

“From what I understand, a sub salad is like a sub sandwich all chopped up and blended together like a chicken salad.

“Lindy had found the sandwich salad, at a nearby deli. It was a family winner.

“My siblings each participated in the potluck. Laura brought rolls. Judy brought sodas and a ham, and all the girl cousins brought cookies.

“Mom brought Grandpa’s Drop cookies and deviled eggs.

“The family had tons to eat and then, following the same routine, a few family members performed.

“Both my grandmother and father played the piano and neither had ever taken a lesson.

“That is the reason why daddy wanted his children, and grandchildren to take piano lessons.

“I believe Lindy’s kids are the most accomplished pianists in the family. From what I heard, that evening, they were unbelievable.

“All four of her kids ... jumped on and off of the same piano bench ... each playing a section of a four-part rendition of ‘Sleigh Ride.’

“I can only imagine watching their performance.

“Following the clever pianists, the younger cousins played piano, too.

“The evening concluded with my sister Laura playing Christmas songs, while everyone sang.

“My brother Thad had transported Mom and Dad to the reunion, which is not an easy task with a wheelchair and a partially paralyzed 84-year-old.

“Nevertheless, the family lifted dad and his wheelchair up the stairs into Lindy’s home.

“Dad could no longer talk, but when the singing began, daddy sang his heart out!

‘It was amazing, that he could sing nearly every song.

“In fact, I could tell, even long distance by phone, that all of the family enjoyed the evening.”

Friends, this is what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about deviled eggs, broccoli soup, ‘Sleigh Ride’ calisthenics, Grandpa’s drop cookies, and daddy singing.

Christmas is about family togetherness and service to others.

Christmas is about neighborhood light displays.

But most of all Christmas is about the Christ child, and one Holy Night.

Thomas S. Monson wrote this poem:

There’s Christmas in the home and church,

There’s Christmas in the mart;

But you’ll not know what Christmas is

Unless it’s in your heart.

The bells may call across the snow,

And carols search the air;

But, oh, the heart will miss the thrill

Unless it’s Christmas there.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.