Commentary: Ghost of Christmas Past is a sweet and cherished friend

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at

“A Christmas Carol,” the beloved tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas is one of my favorite stories about the holidays. My book club read the Charles Dickens classic last year for our December meeting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A few days ago, I was watching one of my favorite movie versions of the classic Dickens story, an old British version with Albert Finney, and started thinking about the Ghost of Christmas Past and all the things I loved about the holiday when I was younger. 

My father had died when I was very young, so my mother, my brothers and I started spending every Christmas at my aunt and uncle’s house. 

They lived in a small town about and an hour and half outside Nashville and my aunt always went all out for the holiday. There would be a fresh tree they’d cut down themselves that was decorated with the same precious family ornaments every year. The house was always full of friends and relatives chatting and eating appetizers along with adult drinks and sugary sodas for the kids. 

I think of Dickens’ story and the Ghost of Christmas Past when I reminisce about all the wonderful memories. 

There was always a huge turkey and ham for Christmas Eve dinner and they were served on my aunt’s beautiful china and silverware. 

I remember spending time with the other kids while the adults hung out. 

My aunt and uncle played the same Christmas albums on the record player every year. 

Friends and relatives frequently stopped by to wish everyone a merry Christmas. 

We’d drive around the neighborhood at 15 miles an hour looking at Christmas lights while we oohed and aahed. 

We’d sit by the fireplace and warm up with hot chocolate. 

I recall feeling the stockings on Christmas Eve and trying to figure out what was in them without looking inside, or, if no one was around, actually peeking inside 

I’d locate all the presents under the tree with my name on them and spend hours picking them up, shaking them, trying to peer under the wrapper and deciding which order to open in the morning. 

We’d open one present on Christmas eve, wanting to pick a good one but not the best one and spoil the big surprise, all the while hoping it was not clothes or something “sensible.” 

So many Christmas cards lined the walls that, together, they almost looked like Christmas wallpaper. 

Our parents usual refrain on Christmas eve was: “The sooner you go to bed, the sooner Santa will come!” Of course, I tried to stay awake in bed and listen for him.

I’d wake up on Christmas morning, have a giant breakfast and then hang by the tree waiting for my name to be called when they handed out presents. 

We’d open presents from Santa and others, again hoping for something not sensible. (Somehow, Santa never brought the sensible gifts.) 

My family would drive back to Nashville after the festivities were over and I always felt very sad on the way home. Christmas would not come again for a whole year, a lifetime to me at that age. 

My dear aunt and uncle as well as my parents are gone now. Its left to us grown-ups to make our own Christmas memories for our children. Hopefully they will look back upon the Ghost of Christmas Past as fondly as we do. 

Merry Christmas, y’all! 



Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident and contributor to the Herald. She can be contacted at

(1) comment


really nice reflection on Christmas memories

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