I’ve been trying to get into the holiday spirit and having a bit of a time. I make the mistake of reading the paper each morning which is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Between the stories of hateful political rhetoric, the sheer violence we seem to enjoy inflicting upon one another, and which new toy will kill your kid this season, it’s hard to be jolly.
But I’m giving it a try. Watching my granddaughter kneel in front of my Dickens village the other night and quietly whisper imagined conversations as she moved the little figures around so delicately helps.
As does taking a moment or two to remember Christmases’ past. My parents were both raised by widows. There was little money, but perhaps that’s what made Christmas so special, especially for my Dad. He was a stickler for the surprise of it all. In all my childhood years not one of us ever thought of searching for our presents before Christmas morning. It would have broken Daddy’s heart.
Christmas morning we went to Mass. Dad stood in front of the living room door and made us close our eyes as we darted past on our way out. We didn’t get much, usually one gift each and one to share, but I don’t remember ever being disappointed. It was the anticipation, the warmth, the fact that Dad thought it was all so special that made it so.
I remember picking out the tree, visiting aunts and uncles, the smell of the incense at midnight Mass and of Mom’s Christmas Night perfume, driving down Nebraska Avenue and watching lights twinkle magically in the dark, singing carols in the car; then in later years, ham and Mom’s potato salad on the table, Dad’s Bloody Marys made with bourbon (a tasty mistake), and flowers from my best boyfriend (he still is). Finally the wonderful thrill of becoming Santa for our own beautiful children. I remember watching our little Rachel take out each ornament for the tree so carefully and telling us its history every year and Matt just being so excited when he was six that he didn’t notice Santa had mixed up the stockings and was apparently thrilled to be getting nail polish and barrettes. I hope their memories will be as special for them as my own are for me.
Whatever you celebrate – Hanukkah, Kwanza, the Winter Solstice, or Christmas Day – may your memories and the love of the season keep you warm and bring you a joyous holiday and a peaceful New Year.