This week’s story word begins with a capital letter: July. Most people in PA think summer, Independence Day, swimming, picnics, and vacations. I could stories about those, some funny (one vacation in Potter County when I slept in a bed with my aunt, woke during the night, whacked her with my stuffed horse, then lay down and went to sleep), some exciting (the 4th of July fireworks display in Galeton, PA, where we sat right under the place they exploded and had embers cascading over us), some scary (the year 1995 when I went into premature labor around eight weeks into the pregnancy and was put on immediate bedrest for the duration … all went well in the end, daughter #3 only three weeks early).
However, I want to share a story about a special Christmas-in-July gift. I’ve loved everything Christmas since I shoved off the covers Christmas morning, anxious for Mom and Dad to call us to come down to check what filled our stockings. Fun traditions from my childhood Christmases spilled over into our daughters’ lives, including a few new ones. I’ll share about those in detail over December blog posts (I know, teaser!).
Though the true origins of these celebrations seem muddled, one report stands out as, if nothing else, a cute story. During a summer camp in NC during the 1930s, a co-founder, described as a “creative type,” decided to add a unique tradition to their camp activities: Christmas-in-July. Their celebrations included Christmas trees, makeshift laundry-bag stockings, and camp-wide gift exchanges.
Regardless of its start, I latched onto this extra chance to celebrate Christmas in our home! We listen to Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” watch The Miracle on 34th Street, and spend time coloring pictures of verdant holly wreaths and jaunty snowmen. We even drink cocoa in 90-degree weather! If we use our imagination, we could see snowflakes drifting and hear sleigh bells ringing.
The summer of 2016 found me in the doldrums. My aunt’s cancer alarmed us all with its rapid growth. A family friend died in a horrible accident. I procrastinated (again) so long on a writing project that I missed the deadline, after putting in hours of work to make it publishable. Our new puppy began acting out in negative ways and demanding more attention than I had energy for.
One hot day, our daughter, Faith, brought me a delightful surprise—a Christmas-in-July gift! She’d stopped at our local florist for a bouquet of red, green, and white flowers. The owner searched for a tiny Christmas notecard and a plastic Christmas tree pick to add to the festive holiday ensemble. Faith had also picked up a new notebook and a two-pack of pretty designer pens for me to use on a special writing project. And she topped it off with a cold bottle of Starbucks’ vanilla Frappuccino.
Faith knew my heart, knew the month’s events had left my spirit lagging. Her Christmas-in-July surprise hit its intended target—love and care for her mama. But then, what would any Christmas celebration be without the love of family and of Our Savior?!
*** What do the hot days of summer bring to your mind? Share your July story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!
*** In honor of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference where you will find me next week, the blog post will have something to do with … well, with writing!