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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Past

Christmas is a time when you get homesick, even when you're home.  
~Carol Nelson
 (back: Uncle Mike, Uncle Peter, Dad, Uncle Bob  middle: Aunt Louise holding Chris, Aunt Sally holding Kristin, Nana, Da, Mom holding Becky, Aunt Patsy holding Michelle and in the front, Lynn, Leta, Elaine and Yours Truly)

I don't know why this happens, but it does.   I am puttering about, doing dishes or some other perfectly ordinary something and a carol will come on and suddenly I am crying.  I don't understand it entirely, or at all really.  I struggled finding a word to describe the feeling.    Bereft suited.  It's "b" definition means "lacking something needed or expected". 

All my Christmas memories are wrapped in my family.  Christmas was humoring my Dad's perfectionism with the tree.   It had to be straight, unanimously and definitively straight.  This typically involved the standing back, unscrewing and re-screwing of the tree stand with some of us on the floor manning screws and the rest of us trying to determine the vertical perfection of the tree.    
Then the lights went on, also Dad's job, trailed behind by Mom, slowly unraveling (both figuratively and literally) as he wrapped them around the tree and then it was ours to decorate.  Old and dear ornaments come out of storage; the mouse asleep in his walnut shell, the elf, to be hidden deep in the branches, the wooden ornaments we painted one year together at the kitchen table and popcorn and cranberry strands we made that week and my sisters and I would decorate.

Christmas was the little tree in the front of the house with it's cheery lights welcoming us home and Mr. Conger, the old farmer next door bringing a plate of cookies Mrs. C. had made.  Christmas was Dad being home all day and taking us sledding at the Hyannisport Golf Club.
It was the sound of the merry, "shave and a haircut" from our grandparents car as they pulled in the driveway.  It was aunts and uncles and cousins and getting together.  
Christmas was homemade gifts made with love and care, canning jellies or cranberry ambrosia in baby food jars and topped with little calico caps and a ribbon, wooden ornaments painted with care.  
Christmas was watching Rudolph, the Grinch, Frosty and A Charlie Brown Christmas, so special still as they were only on once in the days before cable and dvds.   It was listening to our favorite Christmas albums on the 8 track and it was piling in the car to drive down 6A to see all the gorgeous lights.  Christmas was watching your family's faces when they open the gift you made that years later still had a honored place on a shelf.  

Christmas was flannel Lanz nightgowns and putting out cookies and milk and carrots for Santa and the reindeer.  It was the shivers of excitement going to bed Christmas Eve that prevented sleep for hours.  
Yet somehow, we always did fall asleep to wake and run downstairs to find the cookies eaten, the milk gone and our stockings, hanging off the mantle, lumpy with treasures.   A tree lit up and cheery, the smell of coffee brewing,  we would spend our morning, Mom, Dad, Elaine, Becky and I, sharing Christmas joy and being utterly, perfectly happy.

There will never be more magic in Christmas, than when you are a child.  And even though every Christmas since holds memories I treasure, there is just a little something that can never be replaced.  And every once in awhile, a small part of me feels the lack.

"And this is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by
"

~from Wintersong, by Sara Maclachlan

5 comments:

Sue,  December 16, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

Beautiful. Now I'm crying!

Lori December 16, 2010 at 7:41 PM  

Me too, but more because I am wishing I had these kinds of memories. Instead, I try to create these memories for my children so that one day they will hear "Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe" and hear me in their minds shouting, "Ha!! Everybody knows a turkey!" and cry because their childhood Christmases were such crazy fun.

You are blessed with these memories and right to hold them so dear. May your own children grow to feel the same!

Merry Christmas!

Crystal December 16, 2010 at 8:55 PM  

You got me all teary and nostalgic. <3 this, <3 you!

beachrose December 17, 2010 at 8:57 AM  

Liz you write so well... I feel like I'm there living in this Christmas past,beautiful!

randy,  December 17, 2010 at 9:10 PM  

What a nice set of memories. The best part is knowing you and knowing that you will in turn share these with your children. So much of what we are is who we were as children.

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