By Samantha Lambert
It doesn’t matter what you celebrate, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Lights and decorations are up, singing is heard everywhere, and merriment ensues. Traditions flourish.
I have lots of memories of Christmas past. One that sticks out in my mind is being scared of the big jolly guy in red. When I was a little girl, I would hide under the clothes rack at department stores when Santa Claus was close by, and under my bed when my Mom would have him visit our house on Christmas Eve.
Another memory is receiving the popular board game “Mystery Date” back in 1966 when I was nine. Monkees records were high on my list when I was 10.
My husband and I started new traditions for our own family when my sons were born. We started taking a family picture every Christmas after our first son was born 27 years ago, and we have 27 family pictures now. We even reenacted one from 1993 years later in 2015.
I also give them an ornament every year that relates to something important to them from that year. They each have their own set of ornaments now.
A lot of my friends also have sweet memories and traditions to share.
Joni Mehling Snyder, Niceville: “As a girl, my mother was obsessed with the perfect Christmas pictures. She rolled my hair on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning I had to change into freshly pressed pajamas with a matching robe. Then the rollers came out, and my hair was styled. I finally put my foot down to no more rollers! One of the memories I miss the most is my father lighting the fireplace before we came out to see what Santa brought.”
Chris Hayes, Beachcomber Music Award Winner: “My favorite toy I got as a kid was the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle and Launcher in 1973. That is worth $600 on eBay now!”
Charles Rigdon, Destin: “We as a family would go to Christmas Eve service at church, sing Christmas carols, and light candles. Before bedtime, my mom would let my sister Karen and I open one gift which 100 percent of the time was matching pajamas. I mostly remember how loved I felt and how special my mom made our Christmas.”
Zack Lewis, Crestview: “My mom and dad gave me a Ludwig ‘Black Beauty’ snare drum for Christmas in 2006. My little girl Ava was born two months later. Both Ava and this drum set remind me how truly lucky I am to get to be a daddy to my little girl and that I am fortunate enough to have a career in music.”
Jodi Beene, Fort Walton Beach: “My favorite dolls I received for Christmas when I was five were Mary Poppins and Chatty Cathy. I still have them.”
An Old Friend from Destin Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous: “My older brother would wake me on Christmas Eve by shining a flashlight in my eyes around 2 AM, and we would go see what Santa brought. Also, one year I got a bike for Christmas and I took it to my parents’ room to show them. The bike got stuck between the wall and their bed! My father had to get out of bed to get my bike unstuck.”
Debbie Floyd-Jackson, Destin: “It is not about tradition but about what the true meaning of Christmas is. When my daughter Ashley was going through cancer treatment, we spent Christmas in the hospital in 2014. It is such a wonderful memory of all the families celebrating Christmas together. Our kids could not go into each other’s rooms, so we set up patient tables outside of our rooms with all the food the families had to share with each other.
“Since the hospital was so quiet, the kids were in wheelchairs, holding on to chemo poles racing around laughing and really expressing the real meaning of Christmas. Some knew their children might not see another Christmas, and it seemed like there was magic in the air. We were able to focus on the moment and not the battle going on. The magic was our kids feeling the joy of Christmas. Ashley is now cancer-free.”