For most of us, Christmas is a very special time of the year. When I read the accounts of special Christmas traditions and stories in other families, it causes me to reflect back on those I have shared.

My first Christmas as a new bride was spent in California and it was the first Christmas I had ever spent away from home. I missed my family and knowing they would all be at my grandparents' house with other aunts, uncles and cousins did not help me feel any better.?

To cheer me up, my husband took me to San Diego to see the Christmas lights and all the sights of the Christmas season. We bought Christmas ornaments to put on our first tree and I tried to be more cheerful, even though the sadness was still there.

Our families sent packages, gifts were exchanged and a special dinner was prepared and we celebrated our first Christmas together.

In our 51 years of marriage my husband and I have shared lots of Christmas seasons together and missed a few when he was overseas with the U.S. Marines Corps.?

Because of those times when we were apart due to military requirements, our best wishes go out to the members of the military and their families who are not spending this holiday season together. We wish them all a Merry Christmas and may they soon be reunited with their families.

Our children made Christmas time even more special as they were growing up. It was such a delight to see how their faces would light up at the sight of the tree and the gifts underneath.?

Since they have both grown up, left home and have their own families, I have learned some things about those early Christmases.

My younger daughter tells me that one year our older daughter decided she wanted to see what her presents were in the colorfully wrapped boxes. According to the one telling the tale, Vicki opened each of her packages and very carefully rewrapped them.

Then when Christmas Eve arrived, she had to "act" surprised when she opened her gifts. Probably no one else in the world would ever do anything like that. Lynn never would because she always wanted to be surprised when she opened her gifts.?

As another Christmas is about to arrive we are thankful for all those we have had and shared with our family and friends. This season Don will be holding down the home front while I am spending Christmas in Texas with our daughter, Vicki, who started her chemotherapy earlier this month.?

Her spirits are great and her outlook bright and I will be there to help her meet each day. To get a smile I may have to remind her of that Christmas long ago, when she opened all her gifts ahead of time.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. May all your "brick walls" come tumbling down in the New Year and your research be at an all time high for 2007.

When sending in queries or sharing information, write to: Relatively Speaking, P.O. Drawer 1058, Norman, OK 73070 or e-mail Darlene Shawn at

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