She gave me the very best Christmas gift when she said that. Really. Because isn't that what Christmas is all about? Working and planning to see the wonder and light in a child's eyes? Creating the magic that is such a part of it? And, really, who doesn't yearn for the holidays of their youth? Don't most of us wish that we could keep the traditions alive and unwaveringly the same? We might be able to cope with the changes that life throws at us all the rest of the year, but in December...in December we want to hold things in crystalline perfection. The Christmases of our childhood...
|Big Brother Glenn & 1, 1957|
Remember, since my father was incredibly physically disabled, it meant that somehow, he arranged for other adults to take time away from their Christmas Eve to come to our address to put up a tree and make the magic happen for his child. One year, so I've been told, the Shift Sgt. of the Northern District Police Station wrapped on the apartment door. When he came in, he found several burly cops with their tunics off, sleeves rolled up and in the middle of erecting a Christmas tree. He just leveled a look at my father and them and asked, "Do you know that I don't have one cop on the streets in this part of the district?! When you are finished being elves, get back to your duties. Merry Christmas, Jimmy," and with that and a smile, he left.
As a child grows, it's with the background of our traditions- of dinners at a particular home and visiting with those who you don't see as often as you like. The frantic ripping of paper and bows gives over to the art of sharing time and stories over dinner and dessert. That's when you begin to learn the beauty of sharing the gift of your Presence as being more important than the presents that come with this time of year. For our family, it meant making the trek to Aunt Katherine's house. She always had it decorated so gloriously with flower arrangements and treasures from her Christmas collection. Dinner was always a feast. And for me, the drive to and from just Dad and me, was my favorite time of Christmas day. We'd talk about everything and nothing. The quiet allowed us to decompress from the hectic, and let's be frank, sometimes stressful hours of La Familia being together. If we saw pretty lights in the deep dark, I'd slow the car so we could take them in. Peaceful and meaningful was this time with my Dad.
|The King & I chatting at Christmas Dinner, 1978|
Presents were shared. We laughed a lot. And we talked until the childrens' eyes drooped. I looked forward to that night every year. To learn that they mean so much to Laura, is truly a gift. Over time, the address changed, but the tradition continued. My home on Long Green Road was the Christmas Eve spot for many years. Two children were the reason for all those years of holiday get togethers.
|My Brother & Sister-in-Law, Linda|
|Laura, Linda, and Yours Truly|
When Michael and I moved away, I turned over the Christmas Eve celebration to Laura and Linda. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I wish that I was still the hostess for that special night. Some years I am with them and other years, like this one, I am with them in spirit. Laura and Eric, (Eric loves hosting parties,) have become the Christmas Eve house. And, here at our home, Michael and I share the day with the love of Melissa who will be here with Pete for Christmas Eve. The traditions we have made as a new family are different from those I knew; we will be having a standing rib roast instead of pizza for our special dinner. Evan will call from Florida and we will wish that both of our children were with us but understand that life has changed and so must our celebrations. I cherish these new traditions with my new family.
|Hostess with the Mostess, Laura and Ava|
I suppose it's what we learn about our traditions; they must flex with life while still exerting their magical ability to remain fixed, reminding us of what we value, what we cherish, what is meaningful and good about life. The address may change. New people may join the group. And, we remember those who are no longer with us, often smiling and tearing up while doing so. The magic is that they feel so much closer to us at this time of year! We realize that they are now part of the traditions that mean so very much. We take the time to let those we love know how incredibly important they are to us. We hug a second or two longer, handshakes are stronger and we are more free with our kisses. For those of us who are grown, this is the magic of Christmas.
|My Beloved Brother|
The idea that she can take the magic we made for her and spread it to her girls seemed to help both of us. It takes away the sadness of inevitable change and gives power to the fleeting days of our Yuletide. Because Christmas, after all, is for children...
|My Lion and Olivia|
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Aunt Holly, Great Aunt Holly, New Guy