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!
4 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story about … July!”
July reminds me of adventures! Growing up, I was at summer camp or in Potter County. Next, I spent July in the final rehearsals of summer shows. And now. I followed in my mama’s footsteps anand go to the Montrose writer’s conference!
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Thanks for sharing, Faith! I enjoyed every one of those memories right along with you: seeing your excitement and how you grew at Greenwood Hills, watching you come into your own as a dancer on stage, and introducing you to the joys of Montrose. I’m proud of the young woman you’ve become through all your adventures! Love ya!
Hi Cathy, I’m late to the table for this blog and the next so am doing my makeup homework now that I’m home and this is a very nice way to start my first morning back from vacation. Speaking of which — July seems to be the vacation month for us, I think because my husband’s birthday is in July so we try to combine our celebration of that with vacation. My birthday and both our anniversaries, from the two times we’ve married each other, are in winter! But also growing up, July was usually the time our family vacationed. Pentwater, MI was our yearly spot. A little quaint village on Lake Michigan. Long before my time, my grandma had had some health issues. I think it was diptheria if I remember the story right. The doctor recommended her parents find a quiet place up at the lake where she could recuperate and get well, so great-grandpa went driving up the coast of Lake Michigan searching for such a place. He found Pentwater about 160 some miles from home and that started the every summer stay there. What started as a health retreat turned into a family tradition. My mom grew up with summers there and later so did my brothers and I. Some of the best childhood memories I have of our times in Pentwater.
But when you mentioned Christmas in July, I thought of the movie Prancer. Have you seen it? The little girl in that story listens to Christmas records every day of the year, that’s how much she loves Christmas. While I don’t set out planning to celebrate Christmas in July, it seems I always get bit by a Christmas bug sometime during summer or fall and I’ll get in a mood to listen to Christmas songs or watch old Christmas movies. Maybe it’s that you can more easily enjoy those things during a time when there is not the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and shopping to keep up with!
Thanks for sharing about your special gift from your daughter that lifted your spirits just when you needed most. What a thoughtful thing to do and to have received and such a precious memory too!
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Yay! You’re back! I’ve missed your stories! I love how something the enemy meant for evil (your grandma’s illness) God turned into a special blessing for your entire family, including generations to come. He enjoys doing this for His children, doesn’t He?
And yes, I’ve seen Prancer and so enjoy the little girl’s love of everything Christmas! I understand completely getting hit by that “bug,” and I agree with your thought on being able to enjoy the movies and music much more without “the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations.” A big pull of my early Christmas musings stems from starting early to make all our Christmas gifts. This year, I’m doing a lot of cross-stitching, which takes a lot of time.
Our daughters all three enjoy the giving (and receiving) of gifts at any time of the year. On Facebook, we’ll often see or send a message saying, “Guess what! I got you a present!” And oh, the anticipation that brings! (I’m writing a blog post on anticipation for this coming Monday!)