Jingle Bells in the City

By: Julie Paysen

It sure is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Toccoa! The colors are bright, holiday music, beautifully decorated trees, twinkling lights, carolers singing familiar Christmas songs, Santa’s workshop, gingerbread houses and ice skating in the south! There is a sparkle in the eyes of everyone you see from the youngest to the old and wise. There seems to be something magical about this time of year. But for some it may be more difficult than you think.

For those who have fallen on hard times, for those who will not be home with their family because they are deployed in service to our country, for those who will spend the holidays alone because they cannot get home to see family, for those who will spend Christmas without someone that they loved dearly. But for some, Christmas may actually be the most difficult time of the year.

Christmas was always a favorite for me. I remember growing up and spending Christmas Eve with my daddy’s side of the family. He was one of five and I was the youngest of sixteen grandchildren. Three generations all under one roof. We would gather every year and my Aunt Virginia and Uncle Stroud’s house and exchange gifts making memories that I still hold dear. On Christmas Day my mama’s family would come together at our house. My Uncle Ty always brought us pecans to crack and my Aunt Kate would make all kinds of sweet treats, all cut into bite size servings. One year as the cars were pulling into the driveway, our cat ran straight up the tree! The cat jumped out and ornaments went everywhere! It wasn’t too funny then, at least not to Mama, but it sure makes me chuckle now!

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I have always enjoyed decorating the tree, wrapping presents, giving gifts and seeing the smile on the faces of those receiving. I love the wonderful smell of cooking in the kitchen while hearing the laughter of friends and family all around. It makes me happy to see the sparkle in the eyes of my children as we celebrate the season. It’s the wonder of Christmas!

I also understand the sadness that comes with losing a loved one and missing them over the holidays. It was eighteen years ago when my precious mama went home to be with Jesus, on a cold and rainy Christmas Eve. It was so unexpected, I wasn’t ready for her to go. Left behind with pictures and so many sweet memories of a mama who loved Jesus, loved my daddy and me and served others all her life. She is greatly missed, but her legacy lives on in the lives of everyone she touched. I sure miss my sweet mama every day. But she is singing with the angels to the Prince of Peace, the One whose birth we celebrate! That is where we find Hope.

As we enjoy all the holiday festivities in our small town and beyond, and gather with friends and family, decorate the trees, buy gifts for those we love, be sure to discover the real reason for the season. Merry Christmas.