Mama's Christmas Lists

Mama's Christmas lists kept the family busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It was, as the stories said, the most wonderful time of year.

Tony C. Franklin

12/13/20232 min read

Heart shaped cookie with a smiley face
Heart shaped cookie with a smiley face

The day after Thanksgiving, Mama would start her Christmas lists. Yes, lists as in plural.

She had a planner, but it was much too small to hold all of her lists. They could easily cover an entire wall.

There was a master list of lists, but the most important one to us kids was the secret list of our Christmas gifts. She made lists for everyone full of jobs to do. Because Christmas was more about giving than receiving, she gave us kids lots of presents and canned goods to deliver to the shelters. It seemed we were always too busy to worry about the secret list of gifts.

Mama made lists for herself, she made Dad’s list, my list, and lists for my siblings to do. There was a grocery list, school and church activity list, Christmas dinner list, and a list of Christmas cards to send too. Everyone’s list magically changed overnight to give us new tasks and make Christmas just right.

She was always busy cooking, baking, decorating, and planning from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The house would soon be decorated and gifts would begin to appear under the tree. Gifts with bright paper and bows to match made us kids very happy.

Then Christmas morning would arrive to our family’s delight, and the presents would be unwrapped, and the turkey would be served, followed by tons of desserts. After Christmas was gone, the only thing we kids could remember from Mama’s lists were the last words.

“Never forget how much God and I love you. Have a wonderful, cheerful day.” Followed by a hand-drawn heart with a smiley face inside.

The smile on Mom’s face each year told the real story of Christmas. It’s about family and love, joy and happiness. It was about the gift of giving and teaching us kids to carry on that gift for many years to come.

Now, I’ve dallied long enough, I have lists to make for every adult and child. Presents to buy, and cookies to bake in little heart shapes decorated with a smile.

I bet you’re wondering where Mom hid her secret lists of gifts. We found the hiding spot the year she passed away. It was in her fruitcake recipe book. There was only one fruitcake recipe. The rest of the pages were filled with years of her secret list of gifts. It was the one place she knew we kids would never look. We hated fruitcake.

So please remember these last lines I will share with you. Never forget how much God and I love you. Have a very Merry Christmas and plan a Happy New Year too.