The holiday season has always been a special time in the Amerson household. Even in my childhood, the month of December was filled with concerts, family gatherings, and various celebrations.
My father was a pastor and my mom directed the children’s choir at the church. Growing up in the parsonage and a musical household pretty much guaranteed that I participated in numerous presentations at school, in the community and at church during the holiday season. Christmas concerts, pageants, and services would normally start immediately following Thanksgiving and go through Christmas Eve. Sometimes Christmas has landed on a Sunday, and I’ve even sung or led worship on Christmas Day. It’s all part of being a musician.
So while Christmas has meant lots of musical activities, our family has always tried to remain focused on the true reason for the season. It was and continues to be our goal to keep our eyes on the manger. Our family’s musical songbook included “Winter Wonderland,” and “Jingle Bells” but we also knew that “O Holy Night, Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” directed our hearts and minds to the babe in a manger. “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” is on target as is says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
Besides the musical performances and presentations, my parents and brothers would always have our family celebrations. Before we opened our gifts on Christmas day, it was our tradition to read the Christmas story. As a child, I endured the reading of the story of the nativity before opening our gifts and my older brothers would always tease me by suggesting that we should not only read the account from the book of Luke but also from the book of Matthew. I could barely endure one version but such was the lot of being the youngest in the family.
My mother would always make the most of the holiday time meticulously decorating our home while my brothers and I would hang lights outside. A great meal, including my grandmother’s recipe for yeast rolls, was a part of our Christmas celebration. It was also not out of the ordinary for there to be guests at our dining room table who had no place to go for our Christmas meal. It was part of being a reflection of God’s love as we celebrated the birth of Christ.
Memories of My Mother
While the holidays were special to our entire family, they were an integral part of my mom’s life. My mom was born on Thanksgiving Day and she passed away Christmas morning. Waking up Christmas morning and learning of mom’s passing was in some ways sad, but we knew that she was with the angels singing praise to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
It’s my prayer that each of us will allow our hearts to be a manger where the Christ child can be born.
Check out the newest Christmas album from Steve Amerson, "We Need A Little Christmas." It features 11 all new recordings of your favorite Christmas songs and carols. Available now, on CD and digital download.