Christmases Past…at the Zollners

Shared by resident Judy Zollner

Christmas means different things to different people. For some, Christmas is a holiday; for others, it is a holyday. For Christmas in 1998, our daughters received a book I edited, entitled Christmases Past…at the Zollners. Many memories were put in that book starting with the first Christmas after Don and I married in 1965. In reviewing that first Christmas, I remembered sending Christmas cards, purchasing Christmas presents, baking – especially cookies or another family favorite, and visiting with family and friends. Some memories were funny, some were serious. Some stand out more, the following one above all the others. It was our Christmas tradition.

As a family we attended Mass on Christmas Eve. After we came home, the luminaries outside our home were lit, which our neighbors all lit as well. In the earlier years, the tree wasn’t decorated until after our three daughters went to bed (thus their early rising). Don started decorating the tree. I put on the kettle and ta-dah! The Christmas cookies came out. After all, didn’t Santa and Mrs. Claus deserve a treat?

Our norm was that we ate healthy, balanced meals. Later on in years, Christmas Eve became an exception. After Mass and the lighting of the luminaries came an evening of hors d’oeuvres and treats. Each family member got to select what was considered a special food item.

It’s hard to remember exactly when Christmas mornings changed, when we went from the girls getting up first and waking us to our getting up first and waking them! We then realized it was time for a change in the morning wake-up call. This involved a selection from a Christmas vocal cassette tape by the Oak Ridge Boys. The tape went in, the volume went up, and the song “Jesus Is Born Today” blasted away. This song is a rouser; it was like a major alarm clock and the girls were up.

Through all our Christmases, earlier and later, before any Christmas stockings or gifts under the tree were touched, we knelt before the creche (a large ceramic piece with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, that had been handed down through the family), and wished Jesus a happy birthday, remembering “the reason for the season.”