On the 10th day of Advent, Norman Vincent Peale, the founder of Guideposts, shares some of his favorite Christmas memories from his childhood in Ohio...
Day 10: To Be Alive at Christmas
One marvelous thing about Christmas—have you noticed?—is the way our senses come alive. As Christ’s birthday approaches, everything seems to become more vivid—sights, sounds, smells, even tastes.
Maybe that’s why Christmas memories stay so vivid.
Christmas in Ohio when I was a boy—ah, what a time! Snow always, fields blanketed with white. Sleighs pulled by horses, vapor jetting from their nostrils, bells jingling on their harness.
When we’d go to visit my grandmother in the little town of Lynchburg, my father would lift me up so that I could twirl the old-fashioned doorbell.
The chimes would go ringing through the house, and footsteps would come running to let us in to warmth and love and laughter.
I remember the wonderful aroma of pine and tallow in the room where the Christmas tree stood with candles burning. No electric lights in those days.
They must have put scent in that tallow to make the candles smell so good. And the bubbling sound of candy cooking on the old wood stove. We didn’t buy candy; my mother made it.
She’d cook a wonderful base that she called fondant and cover it with all sorts of icing, pink or green or chocolate. I can see it now, piled on plates, all fresh and colorful.
Then there were those homemade cookies, cut out into stars and crescents and little animals and sprinkled with colored grains of sugar. Yum!
And the frosty kiss of snowflakes when they’d settle on my nose or eyelashes, and the soft touch of our mother’s hands as she tucked us into the comforting warmth of the patchwork quilts. And the flickering light on my grandmother’s face as she’d put a Christmas candle in the window…
Ah, the good Lord gave us such wonderful senses and such wonderful things to use them on—especially at Christmas! What a perfect time to use our God-given sensitivity, to be alive, to be aware…and to be happy because Christ the Savior is born!
This story first appeared in the December 1981 edition of Guideposts.