By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
I’m a bit old school.
Maybe a lot at times.
But I’m OK with that.
When I do interviews for the paper, I still use a pencil and write out my notes. I’ve never felt comfortable putting a tape recorder, camera or microphone in front of someone’s face. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. I just don’t like it. So through the years, I’ve developed Steve’s shorthand.
I still prefer sending and receiving real cards for those special days. It just doesn’t feel special to type two or three words in Facebook or Twitter and hit “send.”
I believe people should be held accountable for their words and actions.
I still believe people are inherently good and try to find the positive side of life. Some call me naïve for that type of thinking.
I’m not much of a shopper, but when I do shop, I’m old fashioned. I like to see and touch what I’m buying, and if necessary, try it on, which requires actually going inside a store and not simply searching the web.
I believe Thanksgiving should be an actual time to reflect and thank God for our families, our health and all we have – and not just a day we get off work to rest up and make a plan of attack for Black Friday.
And I believe the Christmas season should be observed and celebrated in December. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love the music, the decorations and that spirit that seems to exist in most people during the holidays.
And I believe the real reason for the season is the birth of the Christ Child.
I have many, many memories of Christmas – and they’re all in December.
When I was a kid, the holidays just didn’t start until the 12th month of the year. That’s when we put the tree up, started listening to Christmas music and made our list for Santa. That’s when our youth group went caroling. We visited the elderly and shut-ins and always hoped Mrs. Feathers had made her awesome popcorn balls.
I remember mom and grandma making chili and oyster stew for Christmas Eve supper and being allowed to open one gift. I remember the Raymond family grilling steaks on Christmas Day – whether the weather was unseasonably warm or temperatures dipped below zero.
I remember my sister and I snooping around, trying to find what “Santa” had bought for us and hidden somewhere in the house. I also remember finding our gifts one year, but then getting caught. I remember my parents’ disappointment and their reaction. Getting spanked and grounded wasn’t a Christmas tradition I wanted to continue.
One of my favorite memories was going Christmas shopping with my Dad. It was usually December 23, or even Christmas Eve, when he and I would battle the crowds and bitter winter weather in downtown Decatur.
He was a notoriously last-minute shopper with notoriously bad taste. I remember one year he bought mom a black dress. First of all, my mom never wore black. Ever. And even at my very young age, I remember thinking the dress didn’t look like her size. And I was right. She would have had to pack on about 50 pounds before it would have fit right.
But I also remember the set of parfait glasses he bought her one year. She loved those. We ate lots and lots of pudding out of those glasses through the years. And today? Those parfait glasses are still in good shape. And they reside in my home.
My list of Christmas memories goes on and on. I have enjoyed going Christmas shopping with my wife through the years when it was our turn to play Santa. The Christmas Eve worship service is always one of my favorite services each year. And I love how our house looks when my wife gets done decorating for the holidays.
I’m also glad we have memories to share with our children. There’s never a Christmas that we don’t reminisce and recall all the zany and special moments we’ve had together – from gag gifts to special meals to our favorite holiday movies. We watch Clark Griswold and Christmas Vacation every year.
Every single one of these memories happened in December. And now, as the calendar is about to turn the page, as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to kick off this very unique time of year. I will begin listening to all the Christmas music – from “Here Comes Santa Claus” to “Silent Night.” The music, alone, helps get me into the holiday mood.
I thoroughly enjoy driving around Effingham and Teutopolis and look at the many decorations. Are there any communities that do a better job of decorating their homes? And we always make at least one drive through Community Park to see Wonderland in Lights.
This old school guy is looking forward to making new memories this holiday season and wishes the same for everyone. Enjoy your shopping, decorating, eating and visiting with family and friends. Enjoy those special church services. Enjoy taking your kids and grandkids to see Santa. And enjoy the look of excitement on their faces.
As December arrives, I sincerely wish that this Christmas season is an extra special for everyone. Hopefully, some long-time traditions will be carried on, new traditions will begin and even more memories will be created.
Enjoy the holiday season everyone.