This Christmas season, I would like to share with everyone some of my favorite Christmas memories.

This Christmas season, I would like to share with everyone some of my favorite Christmas memories. As a young child, I remember baking cookies and goodies with my mother and the wonderful aromas that wafted through the house of Hello Dollies, Christmas cookies and my father's legendary fruitcakes that he baked in old coffee cans. I remember my father's frustration with annual untangling of the giant glass Christmas tree bulbs because he swore, he neatly wrapped them the year before. The endless quest to find my mother's hiding place for presents. And, if we found them, how to make sure, if we peaked, to get them wrapped back up so as not to leave any evidence we looked...that didn't always work. The Christmas parties that my parents had with friends, all gathered round with one friend playing piano, another playing the violin and my mother playing the guitar and Dad happily cheering her on, as she led the sing-along of traditional Christmas carols. Our favorites were "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," and "Little Drummer Boy." The year I saw Dad riding around the living room on each of the Sting Ray bicycles - I'm sure he was just making sure that Santa tightened all the bolts and screws and that the banana seats were secured so my sister and I could ride our bikes down the block on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, most year's we attended midnight mass at one of two Episcopal churches in Odessa. I remember the smell of the incense, the wonderful rousing voice of Father Don Hungerford as he walked down the isle in all of his most festive vestments. On Christmas Eve when my Mom helped make sure my sister and I laid out Santa's cookies and milk (and sometimes Alka Selzer) just right, so he would find it. We always left Santa a note too, just to thank him. And, those glorious Christmas mornings, when we got up before sunrise, to get a glimpse of the goodies under the tree. The best presents ever included Chrissy and Velvet dolls, a Barbie van and anything Barbie, bicycles and oh yes, the Sony stereo with a turntable and 8-track. And of course the moments after the wrapping paper had been piled up, and ribbons and bows were everywhere, we were playing and Mom and Dad were on the couch, sipping egg nog listening to Christmas music and marveling at the fact that we had all made it another year. What wonderful memories, I miss them so. My mother and dad continued all those traditions with my children and my sister's children and they all have fond, beautiful memories of Christmases past. Now, we share these memories with our children, and through the years, have made sure that the traditions of our mother and father are carried on. Like a wonderful turkey and dressing dinner, sweets for the sweet and a holiday filled with love. One thing, we have tried to share, which our mother did too, was to make sure to always give to those less fortunate, not only is it a gift to those who receive but for those who bestow it. So, this year, I'd like to share "My Grown Up Christmas List," an Amy Grant song, which has stuck with me all season, possibly because the words ring true so much this year, with all of the strife that we have witnessed, at home and abroad.   "Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee.
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies.
Well, I'm all grown up now,
But still need help somehow.
I'm not a child but my heart still can dream. So here's my lifelong wish,
My grown-up Christmas list,
Not for myself, but for a world in need:

No more lives torn apart,
Then wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And every one would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list..."   Merry Christmas to everyone!