In the 1950’s we would all travel to San Diego for a family Christmas gathering. My father’s mother lived in San Diego along with one of his sisters so it was the natural gathering place. While his second sister lived in Pismo Beach on the central coast of California, we lived in central Oregon, a distance of 900 miles!
Stuffing two adults, five young kids (4 boys, 1 girl) plus luggage and presents in a 1954 Chevrolet station wagon and driving for 24 hours prematurely aged my parents. We arrived exhausted and cranky with each other, but all changed when we walked into Grandma’s house!
The house was small for 8 adults and 8 kids, but nobody seemed to mind. The excitement of seeing our cousins, playing hide and seek, and of course the Christmas presents took over. It was a magical week and the family laughter around the dinner table was infectious. And we always took a trip, en mass, to the San Diego Zoo, at that time one of the top zoos in the world.
Time Passes . . .
We all grew up way too fast, went our separate ways and hadn’t really been together for 50 plus years. Until this year when my brother Don and Cheryl from Idaho and cousin Linda Jane and Chris from Oregon, along with good friends from California, all came to France to celebrate Christmas and New Year with us. And somehow, the magic of Christmas returned in an instant!
Christmas is the day that holds all time together. ~Alexander Smith
And the spirit of family love and enjoyment was back, even if we were missing most of the gang. Not having seen my cousin Linda Jane in nearly 40 years really didn’t matter, time melted away as we were sitting by the fireplace opening Christmas presents and talking of old times. And nothing brings a family together like working side by side in the kitchen preparing Christmas dinner.
Then comes the mandatory outing (no zoo around), this time to a 13th Century ruined fortress once used as a Cathar stronghold high up in the Pyrenees mountains.
From the extended Childress family (wherever they are) . . . Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays. Wherever you are, we hope it’s with family!
John R Childress
Senior Advisor on Corporate Culture, Leadership and Strategy Execution
Author of LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
PS: John also writes thriller novels