Catholic couples recall Christmas memories
By Lisa Spellman

.- It wasn't much, just a little Christmas tree with colorful lights and a few carefully wrapped presents.

But it was all Dick Jones, 66, needed to feel an instant connection to the love and comfort of home. Sitting on his bunk aboard the U.S.S. Jamestown off the coast of Vietnam in 1967, the young seaman took his time opening the gifts to reveal a writing tablet, pens and other presents sent by his fiancé, Judie.

"It melted my heart," Dick said. "I remember sitting there with these little wrapped packages and the delight I had with each one of them."

The 12-inch tree stood as a reminder to Jones that love surrounded him just as surely as the sulfur smell of war and steamy Vietnamese jungle he confronted daily.

It also represented the hope that is renewed each year as people celebrate Jesus' birth.

Judie, 65, said she remembers how she felt when she bought the Christmas tree.

"I was so excited. I wanted him to feel that sense of home and know we were together in heart and spirit."

Today, the little tree with its twinkling lights sits on an end table in their front room, reminding the couple, members of Holy Cross Parish in Omaha, of the preciousness of every Christmas together.

For Jan Placke, 63, a member of St. Michael Parish in Central City, Neb., the Christmas memories she cherishes include Advent wreaths, attending midnight Mass with her six brothers and sisters in Augusta, Kan., and the excitement of Christmas morning.

Her parents stressed the importance of the season by demonstrating through their faith that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, Placke said.

Placke said she and her husband, Deacon Don Placke, continue that tradition with their three children, now adults with their own families.
"My husband and I taught our children that Christmas is about Jesus' birth," Jan said.

A few times to stress that point as the children grew up, she bought a birthday cake as part of their holiday celebration.

And the Plackes continue to emphasize the significance of the season through prayer and reflection.

"Christmas is a time for God and family," she said.

Judie Jones said celebrating the Savior's birth runs much deeper than presents and all the commercialization that seems to have overtaken the season for so many people.

"It's trusting God every day to bring the one you love home safely. It's the anticipation of the birth of Jesus and it's wondering what new things you will experience in the coming year through his divine grace."

Over the years, the Joneses have tried to instill a sense of self-sacrifice and service in their seven children and 22 grandchildren by adopting a family for the holiday to buy gifts for, or sending financial support to someone in need.

"We try not to take anything for granted," Dick said. "We are so blessed."

He is reminded of his blessings when he thinks back to the times the ship was docked in the Philippines and he was on duty in the mess hall.

"We had BBQ ribs one night and after the guys had scraped their plates into the metal cans I took them out to the dumpster on the dock. The locals who were lucky enough to work on base came over and started picking through the dumpster looking for ribs to take home to their families. I'll never forget that," he said.

Things like that, the Joneses said, keep them humble, prayerful and grateful, especially during the holidays.

"There are years I don't even put up a big Christmas tree," Judie said. "But I always bring out my little Christmas tree, Advent wreath and Nativity set."

Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: