Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Memories

I’m feeling exquisitely melancholy (in this case, meaning pensive reflection or contemplation) on this gorgeous late autumn day. I found the Dylan Thomas story, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” and printed it out. I’d love to read it to an appreciative audience. I have no idea whether that will happen this year. Perhaps at Mom’s on Christmas Eve. I know Scott (my brother) loves it. I had kind of established a tradition of reading it up in Manton, but that life is gone. Oh well. Things change.

As I read the very first words of the story, I began to cry … I’m not sure why. I’m guessing that it may have something to do with the “story” I brought out of my own childhood, my personal “Christmas Story.” In this story, wrapped mostly in Seattle memories, our house was warm, the tree sparkled with lights and ornaments and silvery, shimmering tinsel. Presents seemed to tumble willy-nilly out from under the tree. The smell of the fresh-cut tree mingled with the odors of Christmas cookies and other treats streaming out of the kitchen in a seemingly endless and delightful profusion, my Mom a sorceress magically concocting perfect almond roca or French breakfast puffs, still among my favorites. There were also sour cream twists, chocolate crackles, the best chocolate chip cookies (with walnuts! My Dad, and so of course all us boys, loved nuts), snow drops and so much more.

My Mom was always at the center of Christmas. She and my Dad had decided they would create family traditions just for the seven of us (I have four younger brothers) and for many years it was just us, no grandparents, no cousins, just us. Mom taught us to love the whole Christmas season. She made it magic. There was a wreath on the door, snow flakes and Frosty pasted on the windows. The mantel held the cutest little Christmas figurines cocooned in angel hair that when I was little was still made from spun glass and would cut you if you weren’t careful. With my Mom, decorating the tree became high art, every ornament lovingly placed, lights just so, tinsel draped strand by strand until the whole tree shimmered in the colored lights.

Looking back, I feel as though there was such a sense of innocence about it all. I guess that’s where my feelings of nostalgia, or melancholy, are coming from. As I said at the beginning, things change. With Dad gone, and my Mom feeling less and less like taking on having Christmas at her house (this year, 2006, may be the last), I’m feeling a whole new wave of letting go break over me, scouring out more of my stories of who I thought I was. It’s liberating, in an intense kind of way. There’s such a feeling of letting go, and I haven’t figured out how to let go without feeling some sadness (hint to myself: there’s nothing to “figure out” – just feel).

Anyhow, I’ll continue with more Christmas memories in my next blog.

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