Monday, December 22, 2014

Spirits of Christmases Past

I want to share just a few recollections of Christmases that our family celebrated together. One that came to mind is about our mother, Sybil. Mom had allergies to peanuts, eggs, and so forth. She had one allergy that she tended to ignore at Christmas and that was pine. She had to have a live tree and would sniffle her way through the holiday season.
What makes it a memory was that she was taking a bath and heard a thump. She quickly dried off, slipped on a house coat and went to investigate. What she found was the tree sprawled on the floor of the family room where it had fallen over. She decided to push it up and lean it against the wall until Dad could secure it.
Grasping it securely, she began to hoist it back into position. As she did, her gown opened in the front, exposing her chest to the scratching, pricking short needles of the pine tree. Now, she is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Does she drop it or does she finish the job and push it upright? My mom was never a coward and the tree was pushed up against the wall. Mom told us that she developed a long lasting red rash on her chest from the encounter with her enemy the tree.

The tree topper for as long as I can remember was a thick, translucent plastic star that had a red plastic connector that framed the ornament. That star was always a special part of the holiday when Dad hung it and it was lighted.
The other ornament that was an integral part of Christmas was an older frosted glass irregularly shaped bulb. I claimed it as mine and hung it on the tree every year. It was gold-green in color and had white frosting bands encircled the high point ridges of it.
Mom allowed me to take it when I became married to my wife, Cindy, and it was one of the bulbs that graced our tree at our first Christmas. That bulb became part of our newly formed family’s tradition of the season. Then, one year, it mysteriously disappeared. There was no trace, no ransom note, and no one claimed responsibility for its exodus to worlds unknown.

This year, my sister, an E-bay cruiser, found a tree topper similar to the one that graced out tree so many years ago and bought it for me. She told me how to browse the E-bay pages and as I did, there was the ornament that I had claimed as mine. It was bunched with several others, but it was the same beloved bulb and it called my name. My sister, Kathy, bless her soul, already had an account and put a bid in on it. I assume that she got it and will have to wait until Christmas to find out. The star or the bulb one will be a gift and the other, I will reimburse her for the costs.
The last memory that I will share is of my father, Carl. He wasn’t an expressive man, didn’t say much, and his “I love you’s” were almost non-existent. Each year, my wife and I would try to get a gift that would try to get him to express that he was happy with what he’d gotten. Nada.
One year, my brother suggested that since he recently joined the fire department, we get him a jacket to match the other members. The members told Dad that they couldn’t order more. Dad was disappointed. I told my brother, Ken, that I wanted to try to get one and I wanted to buy it myself. I wanted to finally paste a smile on his face from a gift I bought him.
I drove to the store where the fire department ordered the jackets and found one display jacket left. It was Dad’s size. I was able to sweet talk the owner into embroidering Carl on the front and sew on all of the patches for the fire department to it.
Dad still didn’t do much more than mumble thanks when he unwrapped it, but when he held it up in front of him, smiled and put it on right away told me I’d finally done it. He had gotten a gift that he really liked.
             Merry Christmas and I hope that this has stirred a memory or two from your own holidays past.

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