By Kelly Young

Guest Columnist

I don’t tend to be a very nostalgic person, but Christmas has always been an occasion when even I can’t help but reminisce about the past. And what is Christmas if not the opening, and merriest, paragraph of the most vital history lesson ever?

As I sit here and hark back on all the warmest memories of Christmas past, it’s not the big presents I wanted and got that come to mind — although the basketball hoop I received in 1996 was wicked awesome — but rather it’s the Young family traditions that I recall with the most fondness.

This is probably going to sound highly odd, but when I think of Christmas, after Jesus, a dinosaur in a tuxedo and another in a Santa’s outfit are the first things that spring into my mind. Rex the T-rex and Herb the Styracosaurus were the well-dressed hosts of the Claymation Christmas Celebration, and having the holiday pass by without watching them argue about the definition of “wassail” at least once was never an option for my family.

Sure, we tried to catch the Peanuts gang each year as they gathered around Charlie Brown’s sad little tree, usually watched Rudolph and his dentist friend escape the Bumble and typically wanted to be there to see the Grinch’s change of heart — but none of that was as important as the four of us sitting down together to watch clay camels, walruses and raisins signing Christmas carols.

The Claymation Christmas Celebration first aired in 1987. I haven’t missed it a single December since that time, I don’t plan to ever go another Christmas without it and I have every intention of some day watching it with my children and their children as they too fall in love with it.

Another thing that really sticks out in my memory is my family’s advent calendar. It was nothing more than a flimsy little board with four week’s worth of cheap candy tied to it, but it clings to my mind as a major part of Christmas.

Something about the expectant nature of Christmas made finally getting to pull your candy cane from the calendar each night a cherished milestone. Twelve cents worth of peppermint-flavored sugar never tasted so good.

And, like many modern Christian families, the Youngs always went to a Christmas Eve service at church the night before the big day. We always finished the service with a candlelight rendition of Silent Night, and among all the Christmas hymns that particular song still holds a certain special reverence within me because of that.

I feel like attending some sort of Christmas Eve service is an important practice as it really helps to put the holiday into proper perspective, particularly for families with small children who may be more prone to let the promise of a few free trinkets detract from what’s really important about Christmas.

These are some of the things about Christmas that I take with me from year to year. Not the toys I soon grew bored of or the clothing I eventually outgrew. But the times spent with loved ones as we gathered together to await the birth of the Savior.

As you read this, it is already Dec. 27, and you are probably still recovering from this year’s festivities. Well, I hope you had a very merry Christmas this year, made some lasting family traditions of your own and that you weren’t too quick to sweep the beautiful mess of paper, ribbons and tags from your living room floor.

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