by Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council #5911
Editor’s Note: this was written over a month ago, but is still as much of a heartwarming read right before Christmas Eve. A very Merry Christmas to all our members, readers, friends and families!
Christmas is next month, and there is much for many of us to think about, and that is gifts to buy and the cards that need to be sent out and the many decorations that need to be hanged around our homes. But for myself it is a time to reflect about the troubles in the world and our nation. Like our nation at war, terrorists seeking to harm innocents people, not to mention the great loss of lives due to the COVID-19 virus that has taken over 200,000 lives in our country alone and thousands more world-wide.
I also think of racial unrest. The message of the season is,’ peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.” Yet where is it ? This is when many of us reflect on the gentler times in our past. My memories take me back to 1957, it was the Cold World, but at eight years old I didn’t care nor much understand those things.
I was living in a corner house in Queens Village with my mother and father and two elderly boarders my mother would care for. We didn’t have much money but always had a good Christmas – full of love and sharing and plenty of music, which my mother said, “was tonic for the soul.”
A few evenings before Christmas my father and I set out to buy our Christmas tree, but my father’s car would not start. It was a cold, crisp and snow was falling on the ground. My father had a idea so my mother wouldn’t be disappointed: We took my sled to a place where they sold Christmas trees on Francis Lewis Boulevard which was about a half a mile away. And with the snow on the ground this adventure was a done deal. When we got there, my father picked out a beautiful six-footer, we tied it on top of my sled and took it home to our house on 213th Street. We proceeded to sing Christmas carols all the way home. Back at home my mother had a special place in front of the fireplace for the tree. Our job was done once it was settled in the stand, then my mother took over, decorating it with love and devotion to every detail.
Kindness and love seemed to bounce from house to house in those days, and neighbors greeted one another with a,” Merry Christmas,” as carolers sang from house to house. Churches were beaming with worshipers. I myself sang in the choir. Christmas meant a lot back than, and I can’t help but wonder if that kind of Christmas will ever return. The picture perfect Christmases of our memories may have been laced with imperfections, but I still think that they were better than the frenzied days we have now. I can’t help but hope and pray that America returns to family values, and to live out the true meaning of Christmas which is peace, kindness and goodwill to all we meet. May God bless you all and God bless America.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.