One of my favorite Christmas memories was really an unusual Christmas.
The year was 1989. My husband and I decided that we would like to have our own Christmas celebration instead of going to either of our parent’s houses on Christmas Day. This was not a popular decision in our family, but we thought the time was right to start our own traditions. Our son was 9 years old and our baby girl was 16 months old.
I had purchased a turkey and the trimmings to make our own small Christmas dinner. I had decorated the table and was ready to cook on Christmas morning. The temperatures for Birmingham, Alabama, were unusually cold that year. It was called the Siberian Express. From December 23rd – December 25th, the temperatures did not get above freezing. The temperatures were between 1 degree to 15 degrees. This is extremely cold for Alabama any time of the winter.
As I was about to put the turkey in the oven, my father in law called and said that the pond was frozen. My husband told me to put the turkey back in the refrigerator and we would cook it later. We needed to go see the pond. We bundled everyone up with extra socks and lots of layers and ran across the street to go behind their house, down the hill, and then down the bank to see such an amazing sight. The pond was indeed frozen all the way across and back in the trees further than we could see.
We knew the water was not deep under the ice so if the ice broke, there would not be danger of not being able to get out of the water. My husband went out on the ice first. He would walk a few steps and then slide a few. He was having so much fun. My sister-in-law and her husband went out on the ice. They were having a great time.
We had a sled from years past that was rarely used. We put our two children and our two nieces on the sled and pushed them out just a few feet to get their picture. We figured this would never happen again in their lifetime. The children were 9, 5, 16 months, and 12 months. What a picture and what a memory.
We were concerned about the younger children getting too cold so we took them inside my in-law’s house and started taking off all the layers we had them bundled up in. The fire was so inviting. We started hanging wet socks and gloves up in front of the fire. My mother-in-law made hot chocolate and we all got warm inside. She always made the best hot chocolate.
After I got warm, I went back out to the pond. It was amazing and beautiful at the same time. My sister-in-law and her husband started walking on the ice again and it started cracking. My sister-in-law started going toward her husband and he told her to move away. There was too much weight in that area. We laughed and laughed. It was such a fun morning.
The next thing I knew, it was lunch time. My turkey was still in the refrigerator. My mother-in-law knew everyone would be cold and hungry so she was making chili. Chili for Christmas dinner? Yes!!! It was wonderful. Everyone was tired and cold and wet from playing on the ice. What an amazing day.
Later that afternoon a neighbor came over with his tractor with the wagon hitched up to it. We all piled in and had quilts under us as well as on top of us. He drove us back out into the pasture land behind the pond and then around the surrounding area to see all of the neighbors’ ponds. We sang Christmas carols and had a wonderful time.
There was a magic about that Christmas Day. Even though we did not have our turkey dinner, it is a day that we will never forget. God’s handiwork was so beautiful He forms each ice crystal and makes them unique. He protects the fish under the ice. He is such a gracious God. He gave us his one and only son as a gift of salvation so that we would be able to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I will never forget this day. There was fun. There was family. And there was faith. What more could a person need on Christmas.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV