Through the holidays, we have been running run stories and photographs some reader-submitted, like these to celebrate some of the simple moments and traditions of the season.
A Bethlehem Moment
One of my special Christmas moments was more than 50 years ago. I was a young mother of two children. At the time, we were new members of a big church in Charleston. A slide show was presented of places of spiritual interest in Israel.
It was my first time to see images of Biblical places.
As I viewed the slides of Bethlehem, I was touched by the miracles of that first Christmas morning.
I could visualize the shepherds in the fields with their sheep, bedded down for the night.
I could almost see the night sky lighting up from the brilliance of the bright star of Bethlehem hanging low, and hear the rejoicing angels.
From that moment on, I longed to follow the shepherds and go in search of the places I had studied, believed in and sung about every Christmas since early childhood.
Later in life, I was privileged to travel to Bethlehem several times. I actually entered an excavated sandstone cave underneath the Church of the Nativity and there, in the side of the small cave, was carved an animal crib or manager where the animals were fed.
Could this be the actual spot on which Christ Jesus slept on a bed of hay?
As we entered the city of Jerusalem and I got my first glimpse of the old city walls, the sight took my breath away.
It was spiritually satisfying for me to just walk and see where Jesus had walked, and to pause to pray by an old olive tree.
Octama Lively Poole of Forest Acres
This is the first Christmas that my husband and I will be alone. Our children are all visiting the other side of their families.
Im already dreading the silence of Christmas morning. I havent had the heart to drag down the decorations or tree for just the two of us.
But today I decided to stop and think about what Christmas really means to me. Christmas Music on the radio brings thoughts of the Christ Child and the love He gives to all.
Then I realize that no one can ever take away my memories: Happy memories of Christmas as a child, memories with my parents, memories of being newly engaged and married, memories of my first tree as an adult, memories of my own little babies, memories with each new grandbaby, memories of family get-togethers and loved ones who await me in heaven.
Memories, thats what makes Christmas!
So I guess I need to get started figuring out how I can make a new Christmas memory this year, doing something new, different and special with just the Mister and me.
Pamela Poole Rogers of Lexington
Grandsons get Santa letters
When my son married and I got my first grandson, Andrew, I began a tradition of sending him a Santa letter.
I started the tradition because Andrew did not believe in Santa Claus.
Once William and Noah arrived, the tradition expanded.
The letters continue.
Cooking and baking with the boys is another tradition in our household.
The love and hope the little ones bring to Christmas is compounded more times than one can count.
Merry Christmas and the happiest holiday season to everyone!
Andrea Wolfe of Columbia
Family business thrived at Christmas
I am one of five children of James F. Casey, Jr., and Harriet Howard Thomason Casey.
My father was the original owner of Jim Casey Fireworks on Rosewood Drive, here in Columbia. He started an open-air market in 1951 when I was a senior at Dreher High School. He later converted to selling only fireworks because the chain stores had begun to stay open later in the evenings and it cut into his business.
It was known that if you married into the Casey family, you had to help sell fireworks in July and December.
So, all the in-laws and children helped out in every way that they could.
There was a time when cars would be waiting in line to get to the parking lot to shop for fireworks.
While the men worked in the store, the women my mother, sister, sister-in-law and me helped prepare the meals so the men could eat in shifts.
My father would close the store about 11:00 at night. Then my aunt, Elizabeth Casey, would come over and my brothers and I would go with her to midnight mass at St. Josephs Catholic Church.
On one occasion, my aunt was sitting near the Christmas tree when my brothers were getting dressed for mass. One of them was looking for some cufflinks and my aunt told him to look under the tree and he would find some. Then my older brother was looking for a tie, and she said the same thing.
It was the same way on Christmas Day, working and selling fireworks.
My dad would open the store after we had all exchanged presents. And what a joyous time that was, to be with everyone: Parents, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
The only difference on that day was that my father would close the store when it was time for Christmas dinner so we could all be together.
There is no way to say how much I miss all of them.
Beverly Casey Moore of Columbia
P.S. During a few years, there were a lot of complaints about the selling of fireworks. The sheriff or deputy sheriff would come out and inspect all the merchandise being sold. Sometimes my dad would not know until the last minute whether he was going to open for Christmas, but things always worked out.