Recent conversations have reflected on those flannel PJ’s our mothers sewed late into the night, ensuring they would be ready for Christmas. The last few years, family pictures from a local Big-Box store have shown the matching PJ’s for the whole family.
As a child, I don’t remember them all matching. I do remember, though, the joy of new flannel PJ’s to keep us warm in the cold winter nights!
During the day, it was Mom who was busy preparing all the special treats for the Christmas festivities. Reflecting back, I am not sure she ever had a day off in all of December! Often as a child, I knew it was getting closer to Christmas, with the aroma of the spices from the Christmas cakes and puddings beginning in in late November, early December: the oven had been warmed for the gentle baking of the cake, and steam filled the room from the puddings being prepared. Soon, this would be followed by an array of baked goods.
They were all special, as most were only baked at Christmas: shortbread, coconut macaroons, jam-jams (an Evans tradition), butter tarts, current tarts – the list seemed endless!
I remember the delight in my mother’s eye when electricity, and a brand-new freezer, came to the farm! Mom figured she had it made. Little did she know, her 3 boys would quickly discover tarts never truly freeze! They often just disappeared!
As for my father, I have a memory of him bringing home the tree from the local store—dropping needles all the way through the door-; 2 wooden boxes of Christmas oranges tied together with a thick tape! The oranges would fill the toes of stockings, and some would be sliced, sprinkled with sugar, and served with the famous Evans jam-jams. Those oranges had to last until Christmas!
In 1Corinthians 15.58 Paul writes: “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
As I reflect on the gift of life-values my/ our parents instilled in us, I now know, and understand: those values, and that toil on behalf of family, were instilled by their parents, and their deep faith in Christ. When I see the stained pages of the “Family Bible” from my maternal and fraternal families, I understand their work ethic was based on more than a simple ideal of duty. Those late nights of sewing, the days of baking, the choosing of the Christmas tree, and the special treats of Christmas, were rootedin something greater: Faith.
Somehow, the image of Christmas PJ’s—hand-sewn or purchased from big box stores—continues to reflect the nature and belief in family.
Many will gather this Christmas—around family trees, or in family churches—to rejoice in the Gift brought to the world by a little Bethlehem family of three. Over the next week, we will gather—giving thanks for the gift of family, our spiritual family.
Soon it will be Christmas – One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Silver Bells”:
Silver bells, silver bells; it's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring; soon it will be Christmas Day
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks; dressed in holiday style…