Excerpt taken from my book,
MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS
Left hander Andy Pettitte made his major league debut in 1995 with the New York Yankees. After a stint with the Houston Astros he is back in New York. He has won five championships with the New York Yankees and is Major League Baseball’s all-time postseason wins leader. He is a three-time American League All-Star and a five-time World Series champion.
My fondest childhood memories are of Christmases with my cousins at my grandmother’s house. I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and lived there until we moved to Texas when I was in fourth grade. Up until I was ten or 11 years old, we spent every Christmas with the whole family.
On Christmas Eve we all went over to my grandmother’s home – all the aunts, uncles and cousins. The Christmas tree was filled with hundreds of presents because there were so many grandchildren. There must have been 15 cousins, and when it came time to open presents we each found our own special corner in Grandma’s tiny little house so we had some elbow room to rip them open.
The moms walked around passing out presents as we sat Indian style waiting eagerly in our spots. Then my mom would announce, “On the count of three, dig in. One…two..three!” It was complete pandemonium. As we were opening our gifts, the dad’s walked around and collected the spent wrapping paper to maintain some semblance of order. Because it was such a free-for-all, we accidentally lost a lot of presents to those garbage bags. Sadly, we probably lost half the presents we opened – or at least critical pieces of them!
After the presents were all opened, the cousins sat together and watched old animated Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. We did the exact same thing every year, and no matter how many times we saw those movies, we watched them like it was the very first time.
Now my wife and I are trying to make memories for our own children. This past Christmas was particularly significant for me because we had our last child in May. Obviously, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, and there’s always a chance God could bless us with another baby, but we feel like our family is finally complete. So for the first time, we celebrated Christmas with all four children.
In Proverbs 22:6 it is written: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.(NIV) So, on Christmas Eve we always try to read the Christmas story out of the Bible. My wife’s family did that when she was growing up, so we’ve incorporated it into our family traditions as well. Now our two oldest boys are able to read out loud, and it is such a joy to hear them retell the wondrous story of the baby Jesus.