Every Christmas of my life has been enjoyable. Some were more important than I knew at the time.
All my Christmas memories come from the past. I remember the past, experience the present and remember nothing of the future. Sounds a little strange, but it seems to be true.
Dates are established by B.C. and A.D.; my memories are divided in the B.K. era and W.K. years. That is “Before Kitty” and “With Kitty”. I have known this was true for 59 years, two years trying to convince Kitty, 57 convinced.
W.K. years are more than twice the B.K. years. During the first ten years of our marriage, we spent half of it in Anderson, Indiana. At Anderson University, we had Christmas music, drama and worship at its best. Then we moved to Decatur, Illinois, for a little more than 25 years.
During that time, we were actively involved with Peoples Church of God, one of the great churches and cities we have known. Decatur was a city of 94,000. Almost daily, I have an “Illinois Moment”, about 99.9% of them involving Decatur.
We had been in Decatur four months, knew relatively few people and it was time for the Lions Club to have its big Christmas Dinner at Cantrell Hall for the boys living there. Don Dame, a fellow Lion, was an excellent Santa Claus in every way. The club spent hundreds of dollars to see that each boy received the gift he wanted.
Those were the days we had all-men service clubs. Ladies served the dinner. Kitty was serving drinks to the table where I was sitting. Short skirts were in style, hers was a bright red, with white boots. She never looked more exciting.
As this pretty waitress approached me, she caught me with total surprise when she asked, “Coffee, tea or me?” I was shocked and blurted out something like, “A big glass of ‘me’ will be just fine.” Some Lions heard what she said and as she moved on, they turned to me with questions, “Who is that?” “Do you know her?” “Where does she live?” “Does your wife know about her?” Proudly I confessed that the gorgeous waitress was my wife.
In Decatur, Jim and Helen Mifflin, put their minds and hearts together and designed what was known for many years as “The Windows of Christmas”, a drive through Christmas Pageant of music and drama, presented three nights before Christmas with thousands attending each year.
Another event, after we doubled the size of our church building, was the Christmas Dinners in the Antonio Romano Room, the most beautiful dining room in the city. I always remember Thom Armstrong, well-known attorney and close friend of the church and his charming Christine, standing to lead us all in the singing of “Silent Night”. Dick and Kay Hoffland, Millikin University musicians and the city’s mayors were always among our guests.
Those are wonderful Christmas memories of our time in Decatur. In addition, our church was regularly featured on radio and television programs and in the newspapers and city life. Decatur years will always be highlights for us. That usually included visits to Ohio and West Virginia so Elizabeth and Mark could visit their grandparents and cousins.
Kitty and I inherit new Christmas memories each year. We wish all who read this story, the best Christmas ever as you remember Christ whose birth we celebrate. Dr. Luke said it best, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). That is the reason for this Christmas season.
Dr. William “Bill” Ellis of Scott Depot is a weekly syndicated columnist who writes on a wide variety of subjects. Ellis has spent 25 years as a radio and television broadcaster and as a guest speaker and teacher on college campuses.