By Steve Walker

Three days ago we once again celebrated “FelizNavidad” that brought back many vivid memories for me of bygone years, opening presents and listening to carollers at our door singing festive tunes. Who could forget songs like “Silent Night,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and the classic, “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer?”

Decorating the tree with tinsel, lights, and ornaments is etched in my mind as I grew up from child to young adult and finally grandpa status.

Back as a kid I recall being really excited, waking up early Christmas morning and rushing down the stairs from my bedroom that I sharedwith all my brothers. (1 brother deceased of 6 boysmy) I tried to be the first one under the tree. It was my goal to get my hands on the wrapped presents before anyone else. Sometimes it worked and sometimes I came in a close second.

Let’s fast forward to Christmas in the 90s. By then I acquired two granddaughters and two grandsons who now are in their 20’s. Spending Christmas with young grandchildren became a whole new experience watching their eyes light up as mine did many decades earlier.

For a number of my teenage years my mother and father decided for whatever reason, to buy an artificial tree in place of a real tree. Needless to say it just didn’t quite generate the same excitement with me as the real tree. We were used to religiously changing or adding water in the pan every few days to ensure that it did not dry out and cause the needles to fall off or break.

Later when I graduated high school in New York and returned to Texas for college, I did not come home every year. After graduation from college it was off to Vietnam where I spent one not so exciting Christmas before coming back to San Antonio.

During the nineties I rekindled the sheer joy of celebrating Christmas with the grand kids. One year, Grandma, the grandkids and I spent a lot of time searching for a real tree and buying ornaments, tinsel and lights to decorate. The two oldest girls, Jesse and Nikki, made the final pick on a Douglas fir that nearly touched the ceiling.

During that particular Christmas we strolled down the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk was lit up for weeks ahead of time with lights and decorations along the banks with boats ferrying tourists and natives up and down the river. The boat captains pointed out to the tourists the various attractions. We also watched the Las Posadas procession making its way through the path along the Riverwalk. It is not uncommon to see a number of downtown businesses decorated and lighting up the skyline as well.

Like every other year the Alamo Plaza hosted a giant Christmas tree that was completely decorated and lit up with bright lights for the public to enjoy. As part of that general public, Jess, Nikki, Jimmy and Sammy, and I ecstatically admired the tree. Texas

Remembering conversations about Christmas at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Balcones Heights in the 50s, I learned from the nuns that Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25, is credited to Pope Julius who instituted the celebration in 352 AD.

I also learned that the Christmas season in Mexico for example runs from December 12 to January 6, with one last related celebration on February 2. These various traditions incorporate remnants of indigenous practice, customs from Spain, and novel Mexican inventions from the colonial period.

In 2009, Mexico hosted the world’s largest Christmas tree according to Guinness at 110.35 meters (approximately 362 feet) high and weighing 330 tons on Glorieta de la Palma on Paseo de la Reforma.

With the bands of Christmas carolers strolling along the RiverWalk and elsewhere around town singing songs of good cheer, the hope of a joyous new year is always foremost in many people’s thoughts to include mine.

To the readers of La PrensaTexas and all the families of San Antonio, I hope you enjoyedChristmas 2019. Happy New Year!

And as always, I write just a thought.