Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Childhood Memories & New Traditions. . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 20 November 2008

Christmas traditions are mostly made up of the little things . . . vague memories that only emerge with the decades-old ornaments and tangled strings of lights. The best memories go back to our childhood. The memories aren't necessarily the Currier & Ive's moments that make for inviting prose. . . just sentimental reminiscing that warms our hearts. . . Like the smell of oranges and the taste of peanuts from that little brown-bag we all received as a child after the church Christmas pageant. Remember that? OH! How I enjoyed those peanuts - and sucking on the shells!

I remember the dozens of red apple-ornaments my mother decorated our tree with . . . and three small circa-1963 plastic reindeer with gold glitter . . . Which glitter -- by the time I was ten- or eleven-years-old -- had been completely rubbed off by little hands playing-out the "Rudolph" story. My mom still puts out these dear old reindeer every year.

My favorite Christmastime memory -- as shallow as this sounds -- was the total silence on Christmas Eve in my Grandpa & Grandma Wehlan's house in Blue Island, Illinois. After all the presents had been opened and Grandma finally turned off Moody Radio, I'd climb into bed with her and fall asleep in complete stillness. To this day, I cannot think of a time or place I've felt more secure and happy.

Fast forward several decades: Here's a few of the "little things" that make Christmas magic at the Goossen Home:

For each year of our marriage, my husband and I either make or purchase a new ornament that somehow reflects or symbolizes the past year for us. Sometimes it’s serious, like an open Bible representing Mark's call to a new church and the opportunity to share God’s Word -- Or a small carpenter’s tool-box to remind us of the year the church re-built after an arson fire. Sometimes it’s silly, like a fish to remind us of all the fish we (wished we’d) caught on our family fishing outings. Each year when we decorate the tree, we have a wonderful time of remembering the precious moments from our past together.

As a ministry family, we have taught our children the Scriptural principle of Acts 20:35. . .

“. . . remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

. . . Each year we do something special and unique for the shut-ins in our church and community. Last year, we became skilled weavers after making 74 homemade potholders! We delivered them with fresh homemade gingerbread boys complete with blue-icing mittens and "red-hot's" candy buttons.

And . . . this one’s especially contemporary since I grew up in Indiana where we rarely had a white Christmas. Ya' need SNOW for Snow Ice Cream:

4 cups freshly fallen clean snow
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix milk, sugar and vanilla together as children collect the snow. Blend milk mixture with the snow and eat immediately with chocolate chips! We live in MINNESOTA now. . . Snow? Yea, we got that!

Sometimes as adults, Christmas loses the magic it once found in our hearts as children. Being the adult now charged with full control of the decorating and the shopping and the planning and the baking and the card sending and et.al. . . . sort of shrinks the magic and depletes the fun.

We have a tendency to get all philosophical about things and in a sense we figure we can overlook the joy that we should be experiencing and say we celebrate Christmas everyday, because we are continually grateful for JESUS CHRIST who came to deliver us from sorrow and sin and death. On that First Original Christmas Morning, Eternal LIFE was born in a stable! (And - DUH!) Of course. . .

BUT. . . As parent, it is our awesome responsibility to inaugurate the magic of traditions in our young families. For me -- having married late in life -- I’m just getting into the swing of this traditions-making-thing, and only in the last few years have we established some special Goossen Christmas traditions. To watch my own children admire and experience the "magic" brings it back to my own heart. . . .

After all . . . the best memories go back to our childhood. . . . [Excuse me.]

Kid: "Mom! I thought you were going to vacuum the carpet in my room!!"
Me: "Do I look like the housekeeper?
Kid: "You're wearing the apron."

I gotta' go!

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2008 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

Find more Christmas Traditions at the Internet Cafe


Barb said...

Oh how I love the Christmas season. I am one adult who has never lost the magic of Christmas. It grabs my heart and imagination year after year.

I feel as if I missed out on something, though. I never received an orange and a bag of peanuts after a Christmas pageant... I've read in books and magazine stories of people getting that, but I don't guess I've ever met anyone who has that as a prized memory. How neat!

Denise said...

This really made my heart smile, especially your favorite Christmas memory. Bless you dear.

Barbara said...

OH! The brown lunch bag of Christmas treats is of our children's favorite memories too! Popcorn balls went in ours as well. I have a cousin who lives in Evergreen Park, IL. I've been through Blue Island many times.
Thank you for sharing your memories.

Patricia said...

Love the idea of making gifts for others. I've been making scarves for the Special Olympics Winter Games. See all about it here.

I'm going to continue on until the last week of December to see how many I can crochet by then. (If I can keep Dynamo out of the yarn. And if my slightly achy 45 yr old hands can take it.)

BTW, it's snowing outside right now...but I am SO not making ice cream with snow on a yard that is inhabited by 4 cats, 8 hens, and 1 dog (just a temporary guest)!!!

sara said...

one of my favorite and earliest memories when I was a child is of snow ice cream!!!

I have loved sharing my traditions, it has brought back so many wonderful and fun memories!

I am ready for the holidays!

Andrea said...

This post belongs in Guidepost Magazine or Ideals. It is lovely. You should teach "writing for blogs" I always enjoy my visit.

I'd forgotten about that little brown bag of treats. What a wonderful memory. Our church ladies make popcorn balls.

Did you vacuum the kid's carpet?

Angela said...

This post made me feel so warm and fuzzy. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories with all of us and the encouragement you give me on my blog.


joy in the morning said...

The annual ornament has been a tradition in our family for many years. We've got so many memories we may have forgotten but for those ornaments we pull out every December. Thank you for sharing your family with us.

krista said...

Great memories! Thanks for sharing! Thanks for visiting my blog! Have a great weekend!

Kari@CinnamonLane said...

Google lead me to the most unlikely sites. Great post. Agreeing with Andrea you should send this to Reminisce or Ideals Magazine. Brings back memories of my Grandma's house is Waterloo, IA. and it was NPR Radio. You have a very inviting blog.

Rachel said...

It snowed one time hard enough in north LA when I was growing up for my grandmother to make snow ice cream (and that was with us scooping it off the hoods of cars - probably not very sanitary!). It was delicious!

I love your idea of the new ornament every year. Those will be so fun to look back on!

Mariposa said...

I really love Christmas season...and I enjoyed this post so much! Makes me remember mine as well!

If you are not too busy, I hope you can try this Meme, HERE

I'd love to know more about you...


sara said...


Ok, I am a goof ball!!! I fixed the problem at the internet cafe, but had to put in a new link.....where do those brain cells go after 40?!

and if you would like any of those pictures, let me know, I would be happy to email them to you!!

mholgate said...

Thank you for sharing your traditions and memories. My mom used to buy a "Whidbey Island" Christmas ornament every year for us but they didn't make them last year. I'll have to suggest to my DH that we buy one of our own. Every year I bring them out because they have the date on them so I can remember all the special Christmases we've had together.

I'm going to have to try out your snow ice cream recipe this year too!


Kristen @ {dancing} in the margins said...

What a beautiful idea to collect ornaments based on each year of marriage. I am SO doing this because I can start now! We're having our first married Christmas.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I will have you know most days are like an episode of Seinfeld in my life...lol...not just the fights over gingerbread men!


Traci said...

Oh you have a way with words!! I remember snow Ice cream from when I was a little girl. I may have to write down the recipe, in case we have snow!!

kalopoieo said...

You do have a way with workds.Agreeing with other comments. Good writing belongs in a magazine to be re-read and shared. My wife gets a kick out of the reindeer with no glitter. We've got those reindeer.

Laurie Ann said...

Oh, how I loved this post! I'm with Denise - it made my heart smile.

Sherry said...

I absolutely love the Christmas holidays. The decorations (even new ones) bring back so many wonderful memories. I wish the season lasted longer. I get everything decorated and preparations made -- then before I know it, it's all over! Too short. I'm working hard to get things finished early this year so I can sit back, play and enjoy December :)

Our church still does the Christmas treats (fruit, candy & nuts) in the brown paper lunch-size bag. I'm so thankful that I have such good memories of Christmases past that I can share with my family.

Making family traditions will be something your children will remember for years to come.

Thanks for sharing your memories and traditions!

Joyful Dreamer said...

What great traditions :) I just love the "loved to death" ornaments that bring back so many great memories!

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

This post is filled with good stuff! I agree, the best memories go back to childhood, which make me think about my kids and making it memorable for them. Not just with "stuff" but with quality time and activities that are meaningful.

I really enjoyed your post below. You are so right...our western minds think that hardship and suffering shouldn't be. But that isn't biblical at all and we should actually expect it (if we are living godly in Christ Jesus, that is!) I have really enjoyed finding your blog. It has inspired me today.

P.S. Thanks for commenting on my blog too. I hope you'll be back! Happy Thanksgiving!

Rachel Anne said...

Some of my favorite ornaments are the ones my children made as crafts when they were small. They aren't very fancy but oh, how I smile when I pull them out!

We've had some rough years we'd rather not remember, except perhaps that we've had each other throughout everything. I love the idea of getting one for each other. So sweet. Thanks for this, as always Esthermay.

Joanne Sher said...

Absolutely, positively BEAUTIFUL. (and I truly laughed OUT LOUT at the little dialogue at the end.) I love memories like that, and beautiful traditions infused with meaning.

Erin said...

One of my favorite Christmas memories is that we did nothing, went no where, just enjoyed hanging at the house as a family.

We are hoping Christmas day, usually to the Grandparents, so we pick our own Christmas day and enjoy a day just for our family.

Oh, and one tradition Hubby and I have is the night before (our Christmas Eve) we watch our favorite Christmas movies, enjoy some favorite snacks, and wrap presents.

Crystal said...

Thanks for sharing and commenting on my post about making my own cards. Family traditions are memories we hold on to forever and it is nice to share them sometimes.

Michelle Bentham said...

Our favorite Holiday Tradition involves communion by candlelight on Christmas Eve, Reading the Christmas Story in Luke and then watching Christmas movies while drinking our favorite Hot Cocoa "Snowman Soup"!

By the way, you've been tagged! Stop on by if you have time and see what it's all about and play along!

Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings!

theanniversaryshop said...

I love the idea of making or buying an ornament to symbolize your marriage for that particular year.

Stop over and leave an idea on my Company Girl Coffee post from 11/21 and be entered to win a collapsible market tote.

Mara (the coffee lover) said...

awesome post!

Sweet Mummy said...

It's funny, too, how once you do something that your family enjoys, all of a sudden it becomes a tradition! We did it ONCE, but they have decided it's a family tradition... I love it! We have some very fun ones. "Christmas Oranges" in the stockings is a MUST (mandarin oranges)!! Christmas is my favorite time of the year, for sure!!!!!!!!

Michelle Bentham said...

I love this post. Especially the little quote at the end.

And the SNOW Ice Cream... Oh now that takes me back. We used to make it when it snowed.

Now with all the warnings about Greenhouse gases and pollution my kids think I'm nuts. But, If it indeed snows for any length of time this winter - I'm making this fun and delicious treat!

Thanks again for sharing and being such a sweet Internet, Webby Friend.


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