Christmas traditions begin anew

Published 6:52 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

We all love to cling to the past, that period of time in our lives where the pace was slower and the power of family shone brighter than a noontime sun.

Personally, memories of Christmases past are a pure joy to recall. The anticipation of the season started when the Christmas edition of the Sears & Roebuck catalog arrived in the mail. Between myself and siblings Cindy and Tommy, we collectively wore out those pages….thumbing through it on numerous occasions while closing our eyes and dreaming of how much fun we could have with the toys we individually selected. We, perhaps like other children, would circle in pen or pencil the toys (or in Cindy’s case, the clothes) we desired….hoping that Santa would view our favorite selections and add them to his sack.

That anticipation festered into frenzy as Thanksgiving passed and the calendar flipped to December. I remember thinking how long could one month be when in all actuality it had the same number of days as six other months of the year.

By the time the Christmas tree went up in our house and mom began her traditional cooking and baking, I was completely out of my mind. Not only was Christmas just a few weeks away, but now the sights and smells of the holiday season pushed me over the edge.

For the Bryant family, Christmas Eve was a big deal. We made our annual trek to Roanoke Rapids (my father’s birthplace). Over the years, several members of Pop’s family would host us. On our way home, Pop would keep his eye peeled for Santa’s sleigh. Sure enough, just about the time we traveled past Jackson and made the turn on the Dusty Hill Road, he would spot a red light in the sky…proclaiming it to be Rudolph’s nose. Speaking of noses, Cindy, Tommy and I would have ours pressed against the car window to see that magical red light. Today, I still seek out one on Christmas Eve.

Eventually, my parents became the Christmas Eve hosts for the Bryant clan. The food, as usual, was bountiful. Mom would always bake several desserts, including more than one pecan pie (my favorite). As an adult, on my way out the door she would have one of those pies covered in Saran Wrap and hand it to me. I can still smell that delightful aroma.

After the Christmas meal was devoured and the dishes were cleaned, the family would gather in the living room for the best tradition of them all. Nope, not unwrapping gifts, but rather listening to Pop, surrounded by his grandchildren, reading from the Bible….Luke, the second chapter, verses 1-14….the story of the birth of Jesus. We heard it every year until his death in 2004. The best Christmas present of them all would be to hear him repeat those verses of scripture.

But alas, things change, but they can be for the better.

In June of this year, Deborah and I moved back to my homeplace. That old home on Pinetops Road is alive again, but not quite ready to host the Bryant’s Christmas tradition as work remains to do. We’re planning to begin that anew in 2014.

For 2013, new traditions will begin with our newly married daughter, Danielle, her husband, Brandon, and the latest addition to our family, grandson Brody Ray Harrell.

By the time Christmas 2014 rolls around, I’ll be “over the edge” once again with a growing family visiting Pinetops along with my brother and his family. I know that Mom, Pop and Cindy will be there with us in spirit.

Until then, may you and your family enjoy this special time of the year and your traditions. Merry Christmas to all.

 Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.   

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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