Christmas memories...we all have them. May they be special...for everyone!
Some say I’m eccentric at times. I guess the holidays are an example of that. I want my Christmas tree up and decorated by Thanksgiving. Holiday music plays almost nonstop in my home until New Year’s Day. I make a gazillion cookies and candies to give away and just can’t imagine not doing all this work! These are adaptations of Christmas traditions I grew up with that have always given me comfort. Gee, I’m reflective today! Well, that happens sometimes when my only company are the cookies I just pulled from the oven and the raw shapes ready to go in.
Shoulders aching, I decide to take a break and have a cup of coffee. Cup in hand, I sit down at the dining room table and with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” playing softly, gaze outside at the new snow falling in my backyard. Soon, the picture before me dims to be replaced by the image of a ragtag little girl running up to her mother who is elbow-deep in cookie dough and imploring, “Mommy! Please don’t let Daddy shoot Santa!” I was that little girl and I probably begged my mother the same thing every year from the time I was 5 until I was 12! Of course, she always explained that my father was only teasing and she must have been right: I never found a red-clad corpse outside on Christmas Day...but then I never looked either!
Strolling further down memory lane, more images of Christmases past assail me. There was the year that my big brother was in military service during the Viet Nam War and he couldn’t get leave to come home for Christmas. What I remember most that year is how my older sister just cried and cried. Thinking of my sister, one gift from my childhood really stands out. Christmas morning, I was presented with this gaily-wrapped ‘thing’ that turned out to be individual pieces of bubble gum, glued to what was probably a yardstick. There was just absolutely no figuring out what this was! We had a really good laugh over that one.
Excited throughout the Christmas season, my sister and I were always awake very early on Christmas morning. Apparently, not so our brother! I recall one Christmas morning, once my brother was safely home, when my sister and I woke up before dawn and spent probably an hour just trying to wake him up so we could yell downstairs to our parents that we were all awake. See, we weren’t allowed to come downstairs on Christmas morning until our mother said it was ok. And, they say I’m eccentric! Ha! Then, once we were cleared to descend the stairs, we had to have breakfast before stockings and gifts. Our mother always made either homemade pancakes or French toast on Christmas morning, a tradition I’ve carried into my own home. After a big family breakfast, we…
”Mom, I’m home!” my son calls from the front door. Thrust back to the present from the memories of my youth, I can only stare, blinking, at the young man before me. Memory lane holds me in its grip as memories of Christmases with my son flood my mind. The Christmas that I awaited his delayed birth with a mixture of fear and joy. The year his grandparents bought my son his first wagon…A Radio Flyer! The Christmas my husband and I gave him a TV and VCR for his room.
“Hey Mom, guess what we did in school today? Can I have a cookie? I’m hungry.” his voice finally breaks the spell of the memories I’ve enjoyed all afternoon. I place a glass of milk and a couple of cookies before him and, sitting at the table, listen as my son tells me about his day. Later, after I’ve put the days baking away and tucked my child into bed while answering his questions about where the Wise Men came from, I realize that more Christmas memories were made today. More will be made tomorrow and the next day. Some memories will be bittersweet, but I pray they are all special… for me, for my son, for everyone.