Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Koda Christmas: Author, DeEtte Beckstead

What I Love About Christmas

When I read the theme, I thought “Gee, I haven’t written an essay for school in… well, decades!” I decided to approach it as such and see what happened.

I love Christmas. I love the lights and the music, the specials on television.  I love how people seem to cheer up during the season. I’m one who loves a white Christmas. I love to go to Dickens festivals or, as is the case this year, Mystic Village. It’s a time when I can slip into a fantasy world of love and cheer, even when circumstances that bombard me are of a different opinion. It’s a time when seeing people in costumes of other times, even if they weren’t easier, still have an appeal toward that simpler life ideal.

I love the traditions. I love decorating the Christmas tree. Years ago, I used to spend hours wrapping the strings of lights meticulously around the branches to be sure the lights were evenly distributed and the wires wouldn’t interfere with the ornaments. The most cherished ornament is a glass bell that was on my mother’s first Christmas tree in 1915. In three years, it will be a hundred years old. It goes near the top of the tree to protect it from inquisitive little hands (and dogs and cats). Our family tradition was that the ornament stayed on the tree as long as the kids got along. If they fought with one another, the bell would come off the tree. There was one year it did come off. I don’t think they will ever forget that. This year, the bell will be visiting the tree at my son’s, where I will be celebrating.

Other traditions I love:
·         Eggnog 
·         Musical oranges made by pushing a candy cane into an orange and sucking till the juice comes through the candy.
·         Our traditional family hot cocoa made with evaporated milk (this also appears in my novel Victory)
·         Going to the Nutcracker with my grandson. We missed it last year, and will again this year (I am 2000 miles away this year). Maybe I will be able to take him again soon…
·         Watching It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and Miracle on 34th Street
·         Celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 5th
·         Going out for a Christmas light tour somewhere in the city
·         Midnight church services

Judging from my list, it’s easy to see I love spending time with family and friends. I love all the warmth and fun that comes from baking and decorating cookies with my grandchildren, watching their sparkling eyes and beautiful smiles as we create something special together.

I love to make gifts for my family. It doesn’t matter if they would win prizes; it matters because there is love built into it.

When my children were small, my father-in-law had lots of money, especially compared to my own dad. Their paternal grandfather spent way more than was necessary on the kids (he wanted to), but my dad, who was retired and didn’t have much money, spent hours in his workshop, sawing, gluing, nailing, painting. He made wooden cars and animals, rocking horses, cupboards, nightstands and rocking chairs. The monetary investment was small, but those handmade gifts were the items my now-grown children still treasure.  Some have even been passed down to the next generation. They knew Grandpa Beckstead had built love into them. Yes, their other grandparents loved them, and had taken time to buy something for them. They appreciated that and love them for it. But those small pieces of painted wood were extra special! The love was tangible; they were like hugs from their beloved grandpa. Now that he is gone, they treasure those items even more.

I love seeing my children giving from their hearts: their talents, their time. If there is one thing I did right as a mother, it was to teach my children that “building love into” a gift makes it so much more than what it appears on the outside. Even if it is a purchased gift, I know my kids take time to really think about the person the gift is for. When I crochet a doll or stuffed animal for one of my grandkids, I pray over it, asking God to bless the child who will love it. Gifts to me? I prefer drawings from my grandchildren to paintings by the Masters. I would rather have a macaroni necklace made by a 3 year old than diamonds; a tissue paper flower than a dozen long-stemmed roses.

But the thing I think I love most about Christmas is that it is the time of year we remember God’s most wondrous gift to us: Jesus. It doesn’t matter if we have the right date or not. What matters is that we celebrate and thank God for His love. A quote from my book Victory sums up my feelings

I am not going to let one man, or even a group of men, stop me from celebrating the birth of Jesus. If I have to do it alone, I will. But no matter what label man puts on it, or whether or not this is the ‘right’ date, this season is still when we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior. He is always faithful to us, and wants us to be faithful to Him. He wants us to trust Him and be full of faith.

That means I will celebrate Him. No one can stop me. It’s truly my God-given right. If others want to share the joy of Christmas, all the better. But with or without others, there will be joy in my heart and I will celebrate the birth of my Lord!

And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
DeEtte Beckstead Anderton: DeEtte is an author from Salt Lake City, UT, USA. DeEtte’s first work, The Christmas Visitorswas published November 25, 2012; and her first novel, Victory, - Victory, a town where the people love their country and their neighbors, but what happens when two visitors come to town? One comes with fear and control, slowly taking away the freedoms the people love. The other comes with faith. When darkness overtakes the town who will have Victory? - was just released on Friday, December 7, 2012. 

Thank you, DeEtte for sharing your thoughts on, and memories of, Christmas!!!