Starting a Christmas Conversation…by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Many years ago, I bought the book, The Christmas Conversation Piece: Creative Questions to Illuminate the Holidays by Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie. Their stated reason for writing the book was “to enhance all your Christmas conversations and draw you closer to friends and family through the use of creative and entertaining questions.” I purchased the book intending to use it as inspiration for hundreds of Christmas stories and articles. Now that twenty years have gone by, I’m ready to post my first work spawned by this book.Christmas Conversation

In the interest of opening up and sharing myself with my readers, I have selected nine questions from the book (and one of my own) to answer.

  1. What is your favorite Christmas scent? Constant Comment tea.
  2. If you were going to be Santa Claus for a Christmas Eve, what one amenity or convenience factor would you insist that your sleigh feature? A heater.
  3. As a curious child, did you ever shake gifts under the tree to try and figure out what you were getting? Do you still shake (or subtly lift) packages before Christmas? I never did. I never wanted to spoil the surprise. One of my sons, however, routinely searched for presents and carefully unwrapped and rewrapped them.
  4. What is the oldest ornament on your tree? We own a purple ball that was on the tree during my husband’s childhood. It’s more than sixty years old.
  5. When you think of the holiday season in New York City, what particular rockefeller skating bing free commerscene or image do you picture first? The skating rink at Rockefeller Center. I remember going to the Christmas show there one year and watching the skaters outside.
  6. If you were in charge of hiring a department store Santa, what quality or ability above all others would you look for in the applicants? A real white beard. As a kid, I found it hard to suspend disbelief around a Santa whose beard looked like it was made of cotton balls.
  7. Mary and JesusWere you ever in a Christmas pageant? If so, what part did you play? I attended parochial school, and we put on a pageant every year. My favorite, though, was my eighth grade year. Parts were determined by putting names in a hat, and my name was drawn for Mary. I was not a popular child, and getting to play Mary felt like a gift.
  8. If you could go anywhere at all to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, where would you go? I’d go back in time to my home town in the late 50s and early 60s. A neighbor on the next block from our house, an artist, built a life-size nativity set on her property. Every year she added another figure. I remember when I was about four years old, my mother walked me down to visit it, and she told me the Christmas story. As I grew older, I would make the walk myself, eventually taking my little brother with me. It drew me to prayer.
  9. If you could create the perfect hill for sledding, what would it look like? Be specific. When I was a kid, everyone went sledding on a hill on the private property of a family whose children went to my school. My husband, who grew up in the same town, knew it as Suicide Hill. I’m guessing it was maybe 300 feet tall at a grade of about 50 degrees. (In other words, tall and steep.) At the bottom of the hill was a chain link fence that just barely prevented you from shooting out into a very busy street. These were in the days before people worried about liability. I’m sure the present owners of the property would never allow strangers to sled down that hill.
  10. What was the hardest Christmas you ever had to go through? We expected our second child early in January 1981, but I was really hoping for a Christmas delivery. Unfortunately, halfway through the pregnancy, I lost the baby. As the holiday season approached, all I could think about was what I’d lost. I had no energy to do things like decorate the house or bake cookies. To be able to create some kind of Christmas spirit for our little girl, I bought Christmas tapes and kept the music playing. We went on to have four more children, and one of them is a December baby. His birthday is today.

baby Jesus

Now it’s your turn. Please choose one or more of the above questions and answer in the comments below.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
This entry was posted in Christmas, Family Stories, Holiday, Memoir, Remembering and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Starting a Christmas Conversation…by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

  1. Linda Carlblom says:

    I’m blessed that you gave this book to me one Christmas long ago. I have used it many times in teaching Sunday school classes, at Christmas open houses, and just with my family. It’s one of my favorite books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. zenzalei says:

    I picked: When you think of the holiday season in New York City, what particular scene or image do you picture first?

    That would be two brusque, somewhat roly-poly cops in a commercial that was popular when I was a kid. It was a Christmas commercial of random New Yorkers singing bits of “Silver Bells,” and their part was just so typical and hilarious–super thick New York accents, flat, somewhat exasperated expressions, it was just too perfect and funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. I love the smell of a live Christmas tree.
    5. I actually skated at Rockefeller Center! I visited my future in-laws before we were engaged, and that’s one of the things we did.
    10. Our first baby died at birth in November. That Christmas was a hard one. However, we have tons of wonderful memories of Christmas with our three children and two grandsons.

    I was supposed to be a Christmas baby myself, but I wouldn’t wait. My birthday is December 22.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Monica Junge says:

    Dear Andrea, Sorry to hear about the loss you had. I couldn’t really comment. My memories are a mix of things during the holidays, some good, others not. The best thing was going to pick out a tree and dad would cut it down. Like your dad, mine was always working full and part time, sometimes 3 jobs and for your dad it was a very busy season. Mine always had the German Christmas music on records and I loved that, I used to start to listen at Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      Yes, those wonderful old lacquer German Christmas records! I think they ran at 78 rpm. My parents brought them with them when they emigrated from Germany. And your dad actually cut down your Christmas tree–cool!


      • Monica Junge says:

        Somehow my parents got them over to this country too. When I married Chester he put them on “memorex” tapes and they’re around here somewhere but the audio is terrible. Jens of course had his own German Christmas tapes, same songs but different choirs, all in German and quality was better by this time and that’s what we use. For many years I could sing them in German myself. Just thinking about it brings tears.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. basykes says:

    I was never mary in a Christmas pageant, but I was the queen in the May Day celebration (another parochial school graduate here) when I was in the 2nd grade. I was thrilled because I, too, was not one of the popular kids.
    Death makes terrible Christmases. Our most difficult was the year our 24 year old son died…and then 3 years later when his 30 year old brother followed him. I am so sorry for your loss. It must still sting a bit each year, but so glad you have happy memories to balance it out.


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