Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Memories 2008

Christmas Memories 2008

Life intervened last year, and despite the best intentions, no cards were forthcoming from our house. But we are still here, and have increased in number by one new grand-daughter. As adorable as all the others, she has a wonderful mellow personality that stands her in good stead.

As we prepare to spend Christmas with our kids and six grandchildren, I wonder how they will remember these Christmases, which to me are cherished, but somewhat chaotic. How can chaos not reign with six little ones aged 2 months to 7 years, all crowded into our house to see what Santa left for them? I always feel a bit cheated that I cannot enjoy each little one separately. I liken it to trying to watch movies on six screens at once. There is not enough time and space, and I have a lot to do in the kitchen. I wonder, when they are older, will they recall the magic and the charm-- or just the chaos?

Then I flashed back to the previous weekend when I was browsing in an antique store. There in a basket were some strings of big, chunky Christmas lights, the kind we used to string on our little tree when I was a kid. I was pierced by a longing so intense it took my breath away, to be back in the house on Ives Street where I grew up —a child, excited about Christmas, when all was right with the world.

I saw the small Southern pine, on a table in front of the living room window so it could be seen from outside. I smelled the clean, sharp fragrance of it, and felt the sticky sap and the flat, stiff needles. Those fat lights went on first—there was always one string that did not light up and required testing bulb by bulb. Next came the ornaments, fragile glass balls, and bells and pointy spires, as well as the ornaments we had made in school—created out of pinecones, red construction paper and toothpicks-- and the bent gold star that went on top of the tree. Left for last were the thin foil-fringed strips referred to as “icicles”, though they looked very little like real icicles. Despite protestations from my mother about ONE at a time, these were applied in big globs.

When the tree was decorated, we would put coats over our pajamas, and go outside in the December night to look at it through the front window. The condensation formed a fog on the window, providing a veil of softness like a lens filter, blurring the lights and giving our tree a dream-like quality. My parents must have found it messy, decorating a tree with six kids in a small house, but in my memory lives only the image of that little Christmas tree as seen through the cold, and the warmth of the love that produced it.

I am hoping that time will provide that soft blurring for the chaos that accompanies Christmas with six little ones. I am trusting that they will remember the love and longing that goes into each hug and kiss, and the companionship of being with cousins at Nana and GPa’s house, giggling and tousling and playing games and puzzles. I am praying that someday they may read this, and be overcome with memories to pass on to their own babies.