Christmas Past and Present

by johnmccreery

I don’t know about you, but Christmas has changed a lot for me in the past sixty years. I have dim, shinning memories of waking up real, real early on Christmas morning, eager to see what was in the stockings and under the tree. The more vivid memories are from later; somewhere between ten and sixteen. The big Christmas events were the midnight service at our Lutheran church, in which I sometimes wound up playing trombone in a brass ensemble. After church there would be the party at a neighbor’s house: eggnog, fruitcake, Christmas cookies, other treats. Once that was over, it was already Christmas morning, so we’d open our presents before going to bed, to allow sleeping in later in the morning. The morning was salty slices of Virginia ham, decorated with dabs of  Dijon mustard, in Mom’s fresh baked yeast rolls and Mom’s fruitcake, more dried fruit than cake. Then, the day would drift toward Christmas dinner.

This year, Ruth and I are by ourselves in Yokohama. The daughter, son-in-law and grandkids will be with the son-in-law’s family in New York. It’s their turn and, after three months with the grandkids in Cambridge, MA, this summer, we really can’t complain. Tomorrow I will be turning out for a Roppongi Men’s Chorus Christmas Eve concert that follows the 6:00 p.m. candlelight service at the Akasaka Kyokai, the church where we practice every Wednesday. The concert is payback for being allowed to use the church for our practices. The result is that, if things go as expected, there will be 72 of us performing in a very small sanctuary (we come close to filling it when we practice). We’ll be dressed in dark suits and white shirts and wearing our signature bright green ties. My best guess is that there may be as many as six Christians in the chorus, and we’ll be singing a program dictated more by what we know than the season: Joy to the World in Japanese, O Tannenbaum in German, an Ave Maria in Latin, Amazing Grace and Let All Men Sing in English.

On Christmas Day, Ruth and I will be turning out to attend a performance by the chorus to which one of our associates belongs. It’s Christmas, it’s Japan, so what are they singing? Mozart’s Requiem. It’s a funny place in a funny old world we live in.

Anyway, Best Wishes to All. May your holidays be happy ones and your New Year healthy and prosperous.

And, by the way, what about your Christmases, past and present?

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One Comment to “Christmas Past and Present”

  1. This year we went up to PA and visited my parents. It was a nice time, and there was even snow. My brother and his kids came over; we gave him the second-worst gift, socks. Rachel and I opened them up and customized them with various motifs beforehand – monkeys, rockets, ninjas, etc. Back in our youth the bro and I had watched with trepidation for socks and the worst gift, underwear, in our stockings. Eventually we graduated to giving each other underwear that we had creatively modified. I’m not sure he ever used the fur-lined jockstrap I made him, but for many years my emergency undies just before I did the laundry were the ones he had dyed for me ‘prestained’ – yellow in front, brown in back.

    How has Christmas changed for me? Well for one thing, I can always use some new underwear. And since I’m late to the holiday wishes, Happy Feast of the Epiphany everyone!

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