Memories of a Christmas that Lives in the Hearts of a Family from Years Ago

The year is 1972 and it has been a year full of challenges and achievements and the family’s in need of a good winter’s break. My husband and I plan to do something entirely different for our family this year, something eventful and adventurous. We plan to have a Christmas like we’ve never had before; one we can all look back on and relieve the experience and laugh about as they mature and we grow older. We want something our children can pass on to their children in years to come.

We want to expose them to different ways to celebrate the greatest Holiday of the year, “Christmas,” the birth of our Lord and Savior, and to be grateful for the bare necessities we have to enjoy it. This will be a great lesson…a person doesn’t have to live in a castle with everything to have a great time. We plan for us to have only the bare necessities to make the wonderful true meaning of Christmas for our family come alive, and one we will never forget having with them.

We pack our small travel trailer to the brim with all our Christmas packages, artificial tree and trimmings, food, clothing, etc…we cannot get another item in it as we pull out of Sterling, Virginia, headed to the beach in St. Augustine, Florida. We’re all excited and filled with the Holiday spirit.

We’ve never spent a Christmas on the beach before and we’re looking forward to having a ball of sight seeing, sunning, fishing, walking the beach at night, enjoy some good campfire cooking, and exploring the beach for sharks teeth and shells in the early morn.

As we travel down Interstate 95 going south it’s fantastic as we all harmonize and sing Christmas Carols and our children listen as my husband and I tell Christmas stories about our Christmas’ of long ago…when we were not married and we lived in different states and areas of the country.

The children listen and sing enjoying every minute of the trip. We pull into a gas station to sleep for the night. We’re all apprehensive and afraid because we’ve never done this type thing before. I must admit, Bob & I, slept with one eye open and one eye shut because it was a desolate scary area but where was safe along this A1A, a route that’s certainly not built up?

The next day we pull into the campground around 3 p.m., and I must say, it was sort of desolate too but we set up camp and walked down to the beach. There wasn’t a soul on the beach…it was great, like owning your own huge beach. The children scream and run on the beach enjoying every minute of it. We all go into the ocean for some tag and to ride the waves. By the time we returned to the camp site, several other campers have pulled in for the night or for a longer stay.

The next day, we wake and enjoy a great campfire breakfast and today is our Christmas tree decorating day. I drag out the trimmings and we sing and decorate the tree and my husband, Bob, decorates the camper with colorful lights and puts a big wreath on the front door. Other campers also decorate their campers and we soon feel like it’s a tiny Christmas Village. Oh, we’re all full of the Christmas spirit as the children play their Christmas songs and carols on their stereo’s. It’s a camper filled with happiness and love.

As the night approaches, we don our sweaters, grab flashlights and head out for the beach…what a treat, colorful lights flicker from far off balconies, small crabs dig their way into the sand, a large turtle pokes its head up as we flash a light in its eyes, and the waves echo in the background like its trying to talk to us. We walk for miles looking for findings and observe the life in the sand. We talk about the stars and figure out different figures…diagrammed by their different settings…oh, what a beautiful night. I see a star that I think looks like the one that Joseph and Mary saw years ago in Bethlehem when their baby, named Jesus was born.

Tonight is Christmas Eve, our small village glitters with colorful lights, and people setting by their campfires roasting marshmallows. We commence singing Christmas carols and people throughout the village gather together to join in and a wonderful man, tells the story of the Birth of Jesus in a stable and placed in a manager as shepherds looked on in a city called Bethlehem.

The children’s ears were intent, their eyes were wide open, and all of them were in awe as they listened to the story. The people were serene and smiled nodding at each other as we all joined hands and gave thanks for such a wonderful Christmas Eve.

This was one of the greatest Christmas’ I’ve ever experienced…here, under the stars and the firmament, with my husband, children, and strangers who became friends…none of us have forgotten this wonderful event after years ago and my children are now telling their children and grandchildren about our Christmas on the beach years ago.

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