Thursday, December 8, 2022

Using the Memories of Christmas Past to Write More Powerfully Today


by Julie Lavender @JLavenderWrites

"For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself." –Narrator, A Christmas Carol

My senior year of high school, I was selected to direct the Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. Proceeds from the play’s admission would be used to continue funding the honor society that I was part of. As director, I had the privilege of selecting the participants of the play after auditions. 

I don’t remember much about the productions, but I do recall choosing the 6’2” star football player to play the part of Tiny Tim. Karl, popular, outgoing, and friend to all, proved to be the perfect choice.

Memories of past Christmases, especially those so long ago, seem to meld and blend into a blur. Specific gifts are long forgotten, except for that one year that I got a crimson-colored Honda Trail 70 that I promptly named Red Hot Smiley for some odd reason. Knowing my parents couldn’t afford that expensive gift, I treasured my new mode of transportation even more. As a middle schooler, however, my traveling buddy only accompanied me to the back fields of our eighty-acre farm.

What I remember most about Christmases of the past are the people—family and friends and strangers that I helped buy gifts for. Smells—fruit cakes baking, ambrosia marinating, divinity simmering, butterscotch boiling, cedar needles breathing, and peppermint melting. Sights—twinkling lights, wreathes adorning windows, fake snowmen on the lawns of my south-Georgia friends, poinsettias that matched the choir robes, packages decked out with bows, and tinsel glimmering with each flashing oversized bulb. And sounds—favorite seasonal tunes, Christmas cantatas, and those treasured words of Luke spoken from the pulpit. 

Nothing elicits memories of Christmas past quite like a current Christmas. 

As writers, we can give ourselves a gift by journaling Christmas memories as they pop up throughout the month. If you’re like me, when those memories flash through your mind, you’re certain you’ll remember that event or happening or emotion the next time you sit down to write a Christmas article or devotion. But if you’re also like me, that won’t be the case.

Keep a notebook in the car, a small one in your purse, a notepad on the coffee table, along with a pen in each place, too. Whenever a new, fresh Christmas thought tickles your senses and conjures up memories of the past, jot down what you remember at that moment. If you have time, close your eyes and sink back into the memory, penning all of the thoughts and images that appear. 

When a classic Christmas song plays on the radio, drift back to the days of vinyl records and Perry Como’s smooth tone and Elvis Presley’s distinguishable voice. Let the scent of gingerbread take you back to those days of creating masterpiece houses, decked out in candy d├ęcor, with the kids or grandkids. When you hear the ringing of a Salvation Army bell, let your mind wander to mission projects and service projects and helping someone in need during the holidays. 

With the onset of a snowstorm, think back to your coldest Christmas and warmest Christmas. Are you blessed to wake up to a white Christmas often? Only once for this southern girl, because an inch-and-a-half still counts! What did your most creative snowman look like? Who won the most sled races in your family? 

How about Christmas miracles? Pay attention to the stories of friends and family, as miracle recognition seems to be heightened during the time of our Savior’s birth. Journal details of their stories for possible use at a later time in an article or blogpost, with their permission, of course. 

But most importantly, dwell on the Founder of Christmas: the newborn babe, the toddler greeted by kings, the young boy teaching in the Synagogue, the young man doing carpentry work beside His father, the Disciple Maker, the Miracle Worker, the compassionate friend, the Storm Calmer, the Provider, the Healer, the One who hung on the cross, and the One who rose again. The Savior of the world and the greatest gift we’ll ever receive. 

Keep Jesus in the forefront of your mind throughout the holidays and write down every thought that comes to mind about His goodness and mercy and grace and love. 

This season, make the most of past Christmas memories by storing them away on your laptop or notebook, not just the back of your mind. Include memories of all five senses and include emotions, too. Then, fast-forward a few months when it comes time to write a Christmas article or post, you’ll have lots to pull from. 

What about you? Have you written about a favorite Christmas memory? 

TWEETABLE

Julie Lavender loves celebrating lots of holidays, not just the “big” ones on the calendar. She finds that it’s hard to remember details if she doesn’t write them down. And then, she occasionally loses the notepad with the memory, but that’s another story for another day. Julie is the author of Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime (and hopes you’ll check out the new hardback edition) and 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories.

2 comments:

  1. Julie, your memories joggled some of mine. I appreciate you encouraging us to keep records of these precious times. We certainly don't want to lose them.

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    1. I always think I'll remember the details of an event, but then months or years later, I have forgotten important details! Thanks for the comment! I agree with you - we don't want to lose our sweet, treasured memories!

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