AS YET ANOTHER Christmas approaches, good memories of past holiday seasons tumble over themselves within me. This is a time for introspection, a time when my mind's ever-ticking clock slows so that I can examine that which is most personal to me.

In this, I expect that I am no different than others because whatever else it may seem to be, Christmas also is a particularly private experience. Preparing for this religious holiday's observance demands our time and our attention. We give both freely, of course, but at each renewal of Christmas we also save from it that which we wish our souls to savor.

Here are some of my enduring recollections, which I offer because they may summon forth others, mislaid, that are dear to you.

MY GRANDMOTHERS, for example. Who doesn't keep alive memories of their grandmothers? When I was a child, no Christmas could begin until Grandma Hawkins could close her restaurant and get to our house. One night I got out of bed, peeked out the door and believed that her round figure placing a present under the tree was Santa; my mother was hard put to convince me otherwise.

Grandma Overmyer, far out in Richland Township, doted on Christmas dinners with her children and their families. Curiously, I remember not the presents but the popcorn she had strung for the tree, then divided among her grandchildren. Christmas was the only time that I remember Grandma as laughing and happy; I cherish that image of her.

ONCE A GRANDCHILD, now a grandfather. My fondest images of my own grandchildren lie in the years when all were involved in the anticipation, excitement and enjoyment of the avalanche of gifts that descended upon them.

When they were gathered around Grandma Marge's big, sparkling, colorful tree and its personalized decorations; when they pitched into her Christmas dinners that were works of art as well as delicious meals. Those times, impossible now of replication, are indelible and bittersweet considering all that followed.

AS I CONTEMPLATE the period of my daughters' Christmases, the sound of their laughter awakening me in bed resounds in my mind. They had come downstairs to the Christmas tree and loudly and gleefully were examining the unwrapped gift that Mommy had left for each of them before the fireplace. Those were meant to appease their impatience for the gift openings later when we arose. Memories of those Christmases are a kaleidoscope of love, happiness and harmony.

My mind also is occupied each Christmas with another memory from those days. It occurs automatically at this season and repeats itself with metronomic regularity. It is a song from a gift to my daughters, a tiny record player with an equally tiny record that played short Christmas jingles from 19th century England. I played those lilting songs often and one of them has lodged itself in my memory like a music box. Each Christmas, but never before nor never after, some force within me triggers its words into my mind:

Christmas is a'comin'/And the geese are gettin' fat/Please to put a penny in an old man's hat/If you haven't got a penny/Then a ha'penny will do/If you haven't got a ha'penny/Then God bless you

I've concluded that this jingle which is embedded in my mind is a talisman to remind me of the good fortunes in my life, that I should give something back, to remember the blessings that my family and my friends have brought me and never forget the greatest teaching of Jesus: that we all should love one another.