Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Ghosts of Christmases Past ...

For me, of late, Christmas is a season of memories. I yearn for the Christmases of my yesteryear. Christmas Eves spent gathered around a huge table in my uncle's basement (the only place we could all fit), this table laden with wine, spirits, good food (fried sauerkraut balls and mushroom soup are good, I swear). Christmas nights tucked away in the back bedroom of my grandfather's rickety, rambling old house, listening to my eldest cousin provide a full report of Santa's movements around the house's perimeter. Staying at my grandfather's the entire week between Christmas and New Year's, even though we lived less than 10 miles away, playing Uno and eating Dutch apple pie, maneuvering the figurines in the ghost town under my grandfather's tree. 

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Vignettes of these times flip through my mind like the pages of an old photo album, filled with snapshots whose edges have yellowed with time. Some of the most treasured people in them have died. Some divorced. Some stopped talking to one another. Many of us married into new families with their own traditions. As a result of all of this, I feel very divorced from my past. And any attempt to recreate that past in my own present results in a rather flimsy simulacrum, a plasticized recreation of an exquisite, antique glass ornament. 

I hope my children's Christmases are as precious to them as mine were when I was their age. I hope they relish listening to mom and dad bicker about getting to Grandma's house a half hour late. I hope they hear the shouts of their cousins' laughter, their uncles' stories about doing really stupid things when they, as adults, turn their ears toward the past. Part of becoming an adult is realizing that things never stay the same and treasuring those memories lost.      

When I think of Christmases past, I often recall my mom reading from this lovely book, The Night before Christmas, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa. 

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One of my most treasured books, it looks out over my Christmases past and future. You must share it with your children. It will color their imaginations forever more. 

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And to all a good night (or afternoon, whatever;)). ~Alice


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