Julie Seedorf: Remember the holy night during the season

Published 6:30 pm Sunday, December 17, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

On my Facebook page this past week I shared a picture of an old Christmas vase used in decorating my parent’s home many Christmases ago. It was a small, ceramic pair of boots with cute little mice adorning the toe. The vase still had the sticker from when it was bought. The price was $1.25, and it was an Enesco item. Having something from my past at my table this holiday season brings warm memories each time I see it. Sharing it with friends and readers inspired pictures and thoughts from their families of memories that were special to them.

As I took some quiet time in the evening with only the lights from my Christmas tree shining through the darkness, I reflected on Christmas past and also on the people who made a difference in my life.

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If someone asked me what my favorite present from my childhood was, I probably would name four things. One was a tiny piano I received from Santa. I still have it. Another was a petticoat made from many layers of tulle which I received from my California cousins. I wasn’t used to getting that kind of girly thing and it still stands out in my memory. Another was a ceramic Santa bank I received when I was 5 or 6 from my Wells cousins. I still have the bank sitting by my fireplace during the holiday season. If I fast forward to my high school years, 12th grade, I received a giant, stuffed Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer from a boyfriend. It was taller than I was and very long. I had the reindeer until last year when I passed it down to my grandson who wanted it.

In all my years it isn’t the gifts that hold my greatest memories. It is the time spent with family. Midnight Mass at church with my mom each Christmas Eve, wafers at Christmas Eve supper and Christmas programs with my children. Christmases playing games with family and just being together are the best memories. It was watching the excitement of my children in anticipation of the day. The tradition of going to church with my husband and children and new traditions created when they were adults and had spouses and children of their own. It is memories of the oyster stew and ham dinners and sharing what we are thankful for. Those are the memories with me as I sit in the silence.

My thoughts then turned to gentleness. I looked back on the people in my life who have had a profound effect on me. I was surprised when I realized those who touched my life, made a difference and made me want to be a better person weren’t those who the world generally lauds. They aren’t people who make a mark in the world by shouting things from the rooftops or are busy doing. They aren’t the movie stars or the sports heroes. They are ordinary people living their life quietly behind the scenes and the noise.

I could think of three who stood out in my mind and offered me gentleness and kindness. The first was my Grandma Young. She died when I was small, but what I remember about her is her gentle spirit. I still feel that today when I think of her. Another was my Aunt Elsie. Though I didn’t see her often as she lived far away, when I did I always felt her touch of softness and her smile of kindness. And then more recently my friend Jan. She is the epitome of gentleness in everything she does. The kindness of heart that reaches out and accepts who I am, the good the bad and the ugly and brings peace to my existence just by being herself.

Our world today is chaotic, judgmental and at times, mean-spirited. Quietly, those soft-spoken, gentle people are making a difference one by one, just by reaching out and being themselves and teaching us by their example. We need to take notice. They change our chaotic life and calm us down.

I celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Jesus’ birth. When I think of the difference Jesus’ birth and life made in the world and is still making today, it solidifies my belief that those who lead quietly make an impact and change lives. Think about it. Jesus is still remembered today. We are still talking about him, following and watching. He accepted the poor, the weak, the sinners, the criminals. He didn’t hang out with saints; he hung out with the unsavory. He saw the worth in those who many of us shun and turn away. He believed the broken could be healed. And he healed some of them. He forgave those who treated him badly. He quietly changed the world. He is still remembered for his gentleness.

In the glitz and glamour and commercial trappings of this Christmas season, remember the silent night, the holy night. Feel the calm and the gentleness that lies beneath what the world perceives as Christmas. Good memories are made of the gift of time, love and acceptance of each other, our faults and our differences, and the gentleness and kindness we show one another.

Merry Christmas.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.