19 December 2013

Christmas Memories with Pam Hillman

Please join me in welcoming Pam Hillman to my blog today to talk about Christmas Memories.
Remember is you can get a further 8 entries in this weeks giveaway which you will find here.

1.      What do you most associate with Christmas where you live?
Ah, Christmas way down in South Mississippi, in the good ol’ USA. I’ll just say that it rarely ever snows in Mississippi, so a white Christmas with lots of beautiful fluff is not on the agenda. But it can be fairly cold. As I write this, it’s 28 degrees. But some Christmases, we’re in shirt-sleeves. The things I associate with Christmas: Jesus’ birth. Family. Laughter. Joy. Children. Practising Christmas plays, and then my own children being on stage in plays. And nativity scenes acted out by adorable little children. Those kinds of memories make me smile! I close my eyes and think about the smell of my mother-in-law’s house on Christmas morning, the laughter and the squeals of excitement as my kids and their cousins open their presents. Lots of hustle and bustle, not necessarily shopping, even though there is some of that, but family get-togethers, Christmas parties, Christmas plays and cantatas. Precious memories! 

2.    Do you have any special family traditions you do at Christmas time?
As families change, so do traditions. As a newly-wed, I had visions of making hot chocolate, playing Christmas music, and decorating the Christmas tree with my husband. My Norman Rockwell fantasy died a quick death. My Cowboy doesn’t drink hot chocolate, and he’s simply not into decorating! Later, when my children were small, I tried again. When 20 ornaments ended up on one poor beleaguered limb, I decided those boys were just like their daddy and a career in decorating was not in their future. Fast forward several years and my daughter-in-law decorated my Christmas tree this year! A tradition is born! Yes!!!!
(Jenny here it became my job to do the tree otherwise we would not have had a tree. mum would have been happy to not have a tree so I would do it when she was in bed)

3.    Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol and if so do you know why? 
I love Christmas music and as I write this, I have a Christmas cd playing. Generally, I work all year long in the quiet of my office, but occasionally I’ll listen to music. Today is one of those days. I used to wonder why we didn’t  listen to Christmas Carols all year long, but then I came to the conclusion that the very fact that we don’t play Christmas music until right around or right after Thanksgiving Day is what makes it so magical. Even though We Three Kings isn’t the most popular song at Christmas, I’ve just always loved it. I don’t know why, I just like the rhythm, and the words. Silent Night is a favorite, too. And The Little Drummer Boy.

4.    If you could spend Christmas anyway you could how would you celebrate?
At first, I read this question to ask anywhere, so I’ll answer it that way first. I’d be right where I’ve always been. Home. At my mother’s house. At my in-laws. At church. With my family. While I don’t actually make a lot of crafts, I like the idea of doing it. I think it would be fun to gather all my family in an old farm house somewhere (think The Waltons) where family members have to hand craft all the gifts. Rocking horses, sleds, carved animals, rag dolls for the children, homemade cookies, crafts and keepsake boxes for the adults. Children would make popcorn balls and craft paper ornaments. Cell phones, television, computers and electronic games would be banned for the duration. (Jenny here that is how I meant the question how would you spend a Christmas if you could do anything. I think I would like to have that sort of Christmas, I will be home alone and I miss having the excitement of being with a big group of people)

5.      Do you have any special memories of Christmas?  
I remember one year when my cousin and I decided to cut trees for both of our families. This was way before Christmas tree farms became popular. I was about 14. He was 12. Standing at a distance, we found these perfectly shaped trees. We chopped, and chopped, and chopped. It wasn’t until we got those trees on the ground that we discovered both were about 8-10’ tall and 6’ in diameter at the bottom and would never fit in our homes. Not to mention that we wouldn’t have had nearly enough ornaments to decorate them! We had to trim them at the bottom. Practically ruined the big, bushy look of the trees, but all that work taught us to pay attention to the size of a tree out in the woods the next time we got a wild hair to cut down a tree. (Jenny again Oh I love it and its amazing what looks smaller outside is often bigger.)

6.    What is a typical Christmas eve and or Christmas day for you.
We have a quiet Christmas Eve mostly, sometimes at my mothers, depending on when my nieces and nephews come to visit. If Christmas Eve or Christmas day falls on Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday, we don’t dismiss church. We carry on services as usual, but celebrate Jesus’ birth singing Christmas songs, reading the Christmas story, sometimes by candlelight. Simply beautiful. Now that my children are grown and we don’t have little ones around, Christmas morning at my house is fairly quiet as well. Things start hopping around 10 am when we go to my in-laws for a huge breakfast, then exchange gifts there. I have some great-nieces and nephews, so the excitement of Christmas morning is fresh and new with children around.

7.     Do you have a Christmas message for my readers?
Over the years, as I’m sure all of us have, my Christmas has run the gamut of over-the-top commercialism to tough years where we tightened our belts a bit and did without, from the abundance of health to having loved ones hospitalized or at death’s door on Christmas day. From year to year, the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. But no matter our circumstances, no matter if there is no money to buy toys or extra food, no matter if you or a loved one is sick and the doctors have given up hope, no matter if you’re sitting in a foxhole in a war-torn country, or wondering where the money for rent will come from…Jesus was born on Christmas morn to wipe it ALL away. All sickness, all financial troubles, all worries, war and strife. No, answers might not come today. Answers might not even come in this lifetime. But He is the answer. He’s the reason for the season. Now and for always.

BIO: Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com


Pam Hillman said...

Jenny, thank you so much for having me here for Christmas. I loved thinking about some of my memories.

Our family didn't go overboard with celebrations and shopping at Christmas, but we enjoyed celebrating the season tremendously.

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, I meant to say that the blog looks beautiful! My Christmas tree looks gorgeous on here with the blog font and blue background. I'll have to use that picture in a Christmas greeting. :)

And I've always looked that little caroler. I got it years ago, but he always goes on the mantle. I can just hear him singing his heart out every year.

O holy night,
the stars are brightly shining!
It is the night
of our dear Savior's birth!

Missy Tippens said...

Great interview, Jenny and Pam! Loved the photos, too.

Patsy said...

Pam, I'm from South Mississippi too! (Laurel, you know where that is?) Lived here all my life (all 56 years). I love everything about Christmas - the music, decorating the tree, wrapping presents, all the family getting together (my daugher coming in from Austin, TX. In fact they're on the road today (Friday). We will all get to go to church together on Sunday--yeah!! We will have Christmas on Sunday and Monday. My husband works Christmas Eve and Christmas day (works in EMS). And yes, this weather is crazy. Thunderstorming and hot this weekend and back in the 50s Monday.
It's so good to hear from someone else from Mississippi.

Sherida Stewart said...

I'm late checking in....but I love reading about all these Christmas memories and favorites.

Pam, your song, We Three Kings, reminds me of the candlelight pageants in my childhood church. I was always in awe when the "kings" with their bass voices came down the aisle singing that song. I can still hear that impressive sound now.

Thanks for sharing, Jenny and Pam.

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