Jones reveals that sometimes the most beautiful Christmas isn’t always the most dazzling or the most complicated. Sometimes the beauty of this time of year is simply about being together with family and loved ones, and knowing you’re deeply cherished. That can be a profound gift all its own.
The joy that we feel at this time of year about celebrating the birth of Christ helps us break through the difficulties, the challenges, the stresses and the strains that all of us experience from time to time — maybe a lot of the time.
Christmas has a way of doing that, year after year.
A young Lawrence Jones. This adorable photo and many others, along with essays, recipes, playlists, and more, are featured in the book ‘All American Christmas’ by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy. (Courtesy Lawrence Jones)
Here, in the following excerpt from a much longer essay, Jones shares the story of how hard his thoughtful young parents worked to help their three children experience the blessed joy of the Christmas season, no matter what it took to make that happen.
He also shares how he himself, as an adult, aspires to bring Christmas joy to others as he moves through his own life. “I know one thing,” Jones says of his future. “I’ll do what my mama and daddy did for my siblings and me, and be sure to teach my family about being charitable and having reasonable expectations.”
Read this memorable story by Lawrence Jones from ‘All American Christmas’
Lawrence Jones in All American Christmas: In my family, Christmas was the best time of year. No matter what had been going on during the previous twelve months with extended family members, that was always the time when, if need be, differences were set aside and everyone came together.
That meant that Mama and Daddy did their best to make sure we enjoyed Christmas and its true meaning as well as getting a few fun things to enjoy.
In my immediate family, I’m the oldest of three kids, and we kicked off the season on Thanksgiving. After the Thanksgiving dinner had been eaten, we gathered together and put up and decorated the Christmas tree. It was artificial, but the sense of togetherness wasn’t.
“Bit by bit we’d get the tree up and decorated,” says Lawrence Jones about his family’s Christmas tree. “It was artificial, but the sense of togetherness wasn’t.” (iStock, File)
My mama had me when she was seventeen, so my parents were young parents, but there was always a traditional vibe to that night and to the rest of the Christmas holiday as well. My daddy really got into the typical Christmas-card scene even though I grew up in Garland, Texas.
He’d get a fire going in the fireplace before tree trimming started, Mama would make hot chocolate, and bit by bit we’d get the tree up and decorated.
Nat King Cole would be singing about chestnuts roasting, but instead of going for a sleigh ride, we’d all get in the car and drive the thirty or so minutes to see the decorations that homeowners had put up in and around Dallas.
“Those drives gave me a sense of what was possible if I worked hard at school and had a vision for my future.” — Lawrence Jones in All American Christmas
One of our favorite spots was a wealthy area where Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and a few of the players lived at the time. Highland Park had wide streets that wound through the impressive homes. Lights were strung up in the trees, they framed the houses, and various still-life or animated figures stood on the enormous lawns.
We were somewhat impoverished, and going to Highland Park felt like we were in a dream world. Every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d drive to a different area to admire how other people had decorated their places.
I guess I could have looked at those houses and been resentful that those people had something that we didn’t. That wasn’t what happened. Instead, the trip was aspirational. I would say to myself, “Someday I’m going to build a house like that.”
Those drives gave me a sense of what was possible if I worked hard at school and had a vision for my future. My daddy played into shaping that view of what I could achieve. Many times, even when I was in primary school, he’d have me rewrite my book reports, and he always urged us to read, read, read.
My mama worked as a nanny for a time, and my daddy was a computer operator. They were both employed and worked hard. But raising three kids even on two salaries can be a challenge.
“Being together as a large family was more than worth the time, effort, and money,” says Jones about his Christmases as a child. (File)
That was especially true when, while I was in the eighth grade, Mama developed lupus and eventually had to go on disability. At that point, I assumed the cooking duties, including at Christmas. In addition to becoming pretty good with the tools of the kitchen, I got comfortable using a glue gun early on in life.
We were kind of a make-do family … Thankfully my mama was an expert coupon clipper. We were just getting by, and that big meal [on Christmas Day] was something my mama and daddy wanted to do and had to be resourceful for in order to make it all happen.
Being together as a large family was more than worth the time, effort, and money.
To this day, simple pleasures still mean the most to the two of them.