As part of the season of Advent, ESK teachers and staff memories shared some of their most cherish memories and traditions as part of the daily Chapel services. We are bringing those stories to the blog this week as we prepare for Christmas. Today, we hear from lower school teacher Pansie Evans.
The Evans’ Christmas Tradition
While I have many fond Christmas childhood memories, my Christmas tradition I would like to share began when I got married thirty one years ago. I grew up in Virginia, my husband Steve is from Georgia and we met in Tennessee. We were both close to our families and were struggling with missing them during the holidays. Alternating years left a void for each of us. We decided to compromise and came up with a plan that worked for our family.
There are two parts to my tradition story. The first involves travel. A couple of days before Christmas we would head to Georgia. Christmas Eve was spent at the Evans’ home with extended family. Santa always found our boys in Georgia and we opened Santa presents Christmas morning. The entire day after that was spent at Aunt Effie’s (Aunt F, for short) house. We drove home to Knoxville late Christmas day and found presents there left by Santa. Early on the 26th we would drive to Virginia to spent a few days with my family. Our boys never woke up Christmas morning in their own home but that was fine. We put a lot of miles on the car but it resulted in 4 Christmas celebrations each year with both sides of the family.
The second part of my story centers around Steve’s sweet Aunt F. Christmas day at Aunt F’s house was the best. She was a fabulous cook and made everyone’s favorite food. When you were in the presence of Aunt F, she made you feel so special. She was totally in the moment during conversations and was always so positive and loving. Aunt F was a widow when I first met her and never had her own children. I soon learned that she was a second Mom to her nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and great, great nieces and nephews!
When Steve and I were first married, Aunt F started the tradition of giving us an ornament each year. Most of them were personalized. They were all unique so we could tell that she put a lot of time into choosing the perfect one. We affectionately refer to them as the “Aunt F ornaments” as we look forward to decorating our tree each Thanksgiving weekend.
One year she gave us a red mail box ornament. When you opened it, a raccoon popped out. This became a favorite of our sons, Adam and Aaron. There were a couple of emotional tree decorating years when the boys argued and pouted over whose turn it was to hang the raccoon ornament on the tree. As parents, Steve and I had to step up and keep a record from year to year denoting whose turn it was to hang the special ornament. The boys are now 27 and 24 and they are still taking turns.
Sadly, Aunt F passed away in August at the ripe young age of 94. Her ornament gifts will be treasured even more than ever. We will remember her fondly each year as her life shines on our Christmas tree adorned with our special “Aunt F ornaments”. Each one is a memory on a branch and a tribute to a lady who gifted us with unconditional love.