(Today in Chapter 12, Page 9, in my book entitled Opportunity, I’m visiting a post that I wrote last year in December when I was still suffering from those empty nest blues. )
Christmas memories float in and out of my mind like a delicate, intricate snowflake swirling and twirling through the air as it journeys downward.
One of two events must take place – either the bit of snow lands softly on the icy backs of all the other flakes that fell to earth or the tiny fleck alights on something of warmth, like my outstretched hand, where it melts away forever.
I make concerted efforts to make certain my cherished memories land on heaps of other memories, to deposit them like snow in a snow bank, where at any point in time, I can withdraw thoughts of a pleasant place, event or a meaningful conversation with a loved one and remember.
I’m not sure who Augusta E. Rundel was, but I found this quote she wrote tucked away in my quote notebook - “Christmas — that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”
The Christmas season always sends me to my memory bank. I feel blessed and fortunate that it invokes delightful memories that I can wrap around myself like a magic blanket. I can only hope my children will have pleasant recollections to also remember someday.
For the last two days, my co-workers/friends and I have been weaving spells of Christmas nostalgia at our office. Well, if the truth must be told, we’ve been relating our fond Christmas memories in between gobbling down all the goodies that have been pouring into our office non-stop.
Just today - and I am not exaggerating – we were treated to several plates of Christmas cookies, pizza, sweet snacks, salty snacks, homemade candy, chocolate and raspberry candy, nutty homemade caramel candy, (who makes homemade caramel these days – a lovely supporter of ours, that’s who!) and six different flavors of fudge!
Perhaps our sugar highs contributed to all the reminiscing, but I heard some great and heartwarming stories. One of my dear friends has grown children like I do. She was very near tears as she shared that this year, for the first time, neither of her children will be home for Christmas morning. Her family will be together later in the day, but she felt blue about the changes in her Christmas tradition.
I tried to console her (although I don’t think I managed very well) and I thought about those changes that will someday affect me. None of my children are married yet, so they have nowhere else they must be on Christmas morning. But how will I cope with those changes when my children spend Christmas morning in their own homes with their spouses and families or with in-laws? Hmm…considering that inevitability caused me to make a withdrawal at my memory bank.
Let me take you back about 18 years ago….. My family, consisting of hubby, our three young children and myself, lived in the Pacific Northwest. The day after Thanksgiving, as was our tradition, we had ventured out to chop down our fragrant Christmas tree, one with such a large trunk we had to purchase a sturdier tree stand. They grow big trees out there!
Our three were beside themselves with excitement as we hauled out the ornaments, lights and the special angel who always sat on top of our tree. That evening, we extinguished all the lights in our living room and gathered around as hubby plugged in the decorated tree. Our children squealed with delight, and then fell into silence as we sat enthralled and basked in the shining beauty of it!
I have the most vivid memory of sitting on the living room floor with oldest daughter, who was probably 10, cuddled up on one side of me; middle daughter, at age seven, on the other side; and four-year-old son on my lap. Our twinkling, sparkling Christmas tree glowed like something magical as we began the season in which we celebrated the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Emotion welled up inside of me and I started to weep.
“Mommy, Mommy, what’s wrong?” my children asked. “Why are you crying?”
Hubby looked at me questioningly, probably thinking, “What did I do wrong now?” But he bravely inquired, “What’s the matter?”
It was difficult to get the words out and make any sense of them. But the joy and happiness I experienced sitting in front of our tree with my three little ones and my husband had suddenly turned to melancholy. Even now, recalling that night and writing about it brings tears to my eyes once again.
I tried to explain my tears to my husband, knowing my little ones wouldn’t really understand. I remember saying, “I just want to sit here and hold our children close, to remember this moment forever because some day, they will be all grown up and times like this will be just a memory. They will grow up and leave our home and we will never get these moments back. And I don’t want to lose that.”
That’s the truth. I really did think that all those years ago. This memory is stored in my bank. I saw a glimpse of the unavoidable future that night and I knew that when that time came, it would make me sad. And here I am, those years are upon me.
This year as our Christmas tree was lit for the first time, only hubby and I were here to experience it. In the near future, we, no doubt, will encounter Christmases when our children aren’t home for the holiday.
That’s why this Christmas with all of my kids home, I will once again cherish the memories, guiding each whirling, twirling thought into my snow bank of reminiscences.
I hope you will do the same. Hold tightly to those you love this season, take a moment to savor the sweetness of your time together, and then stow your lovely thoughts away in a spot for safe-keeping, whether it’s in your memory or written down – lest like the snowflake, they melt away.