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Prime Time: Thoughts turn to Christmas in December

The very word December immediately brings thoughts of Christmas to our minds. It certainly tends to dominate not only our thinking but many of our actions during this early winter month.

The season can bring storms and snow or surprisingly mild, sunny days as it has done so far this year. But whatever the weather, we find ourselves planning and often shopping and buying in preparation for that special day that is coming late in the month.

I remember that when we were kids our thoughts and much of our conversation were centered around planning what we really wanted for gifts and making sure our parents got the message. As we grew up a little, we did begin to take an interest in giving as well as receiving. We saved up our allowances and got additional financial help from some adults in the family that allowed us to choose gifts to give to parents, siblings and friends.

My mother loved Christmas. It was her absolute joy to get our widespread clan together around our big old dining room table. Hospitality was so natural for her that everyone felt delightfully welcomed. I regret that my walking limitations and age have made it impossible for me to be the hostess that she was, but I have to face up to the fact that I am now 23 years older than she was when she died, so I can't expect to compete with my memories of her vigor.

I remember my husband's grandmother reaching the point of being homebound and saying, "You know where I am, so you will have to come here to see me" Now we are the ones who wait hopefully for visits from the young family members and are overjoyed when they come.

One grandson lives in California and one granddaughter is in the Washington, D.C., area so their visits are understandably rare. We were so pleased that during the Thanksgiving holiday we enjoyed a visit with their brother, who has recently moved back to the Twin Cities from Oregon. We had a delightful time with him and his family, which includes three of our six great-grandchildren.

Our daughter and her family live in Wisconsin and we are happy she will visit us during the Christmas holidays. We are finding as we age that our greatest joy is watching the growth and development of our extended family. We have friends and church activities and enjoy reading and doing some writing. But the greatest joy and wonderful benefit of living into our late 80s is knowing and loving those delightful grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are part of this world because of our lives and love.