Steve's Blog: Reporter has very fond Christmas memories - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Steve's Blog: Reporter has very fond Christmas memories

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By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Please allow me to share a few thoughts about Christmas.

I hope that the holiday allows you to spend some time with family and those that you love.  To me, that's always been an important part and message of the observance.  Love and family and giving.

I have many fond memories of Christmases past.

I grew up in central Illinois, where we often had snow for the holiday. I loved the snow as a child, but have come to appreciate the warmer clime of the deep South, where I've now lived for half my life.

A special Christmas memory for me was my family attending midnight mass.  I grew up Catholic and attended a small, rural church called St. Mary of Lourdes.

Midnight mass was special as a child, primarily because we were allowed to stay up that late.  It was, of course, way past the usual bedtime.

The typical cold weather meant bundling up for the ride to church. Our church was located very near the farm where my father and his 11 siblings were raised.  He attended the Catholic school and church there all his life.

Midnight mass was packed. I remember it was the only time (except for Easter perhaps) when they had to bring out extra chairs for the overflow crowd.

The church had a very large nativity scene that was given a prominent place near the sanctuary. There was a very special display and the lights made it even more memorable. The main church lights were dimmed, and the smaller lights cast a glow on the manger and the baby Jesus.

It made quite an impression on me and was a wonderful way to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday for Christians.

The other highlight of midnight mass was the music. My personal favorite was when a lady named Arleta Schnieder sang "Oh Holy Night."  It became a tradition in our church. Her strong soprano voice soared to the top of the rafters on this very special night.

I remember those moments during her song; me hoping that she would hit all the high notes. She always did.

Following a moving midnight mass, I always felt sorry for my parents, trying to get me and my sisters to bed.  We were wound up with Christmas excitement, but somehow managed to fade and fall asleep.

Christmas mornings meant tearing into presents, celebrating Santa's good gifts and special presents from one another.

We would enjoy a large meal together on Christmas day, always topped with a turkey or ham or both.

I have my own family now and we've created our own holiday traditions. I only hope that my daughter will look back on Christmases past, just as fondly as I'm able to do with mine.

Merry Christmas to all in South Mississippi. We won't likely get snow; but that's not the most important thing.

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