Sitting here looking at the Christmas tree so beautifully adorned with lights and ornaments collected over the last 20 years, (ones from earlier years lost in a fire) I can't help but reflect upon Christmases past. There have been so many now. Sixty-six in all I suppose, though I can't say that I remember those of the first few years.
Did we even have a tree that first year of my life while my father was flying in the back of planes as a tail-gunner fighting the Japanese in WWII? My poor mother was alone with three very young children. On my first Christmas I was just three months old. My sister was two years old, and my brother was three and a half. Poor Mama. I can't imagine that she had a very merry Christmas that year.
Then, when I was three years old, both my parents were hospitalized with TB, and I was living with a great-aunt. I don't really remember those Christmases either. I'm sure my Aunt Addie made them as wonderful as she could for me. I am just as sure that my mother never had another merry Christmas. She died, never having left the sanitarium, when I just five years old.
My father remarried, and our family was put back together by the time Christmas came when I was seven, and I remember the magic of those Christmas mornings. My brother, sister, and I went to bed on Christmas Eve, after hearing the reading of the Christmas story, and there was no tree sitting in our living room. But, magically, the next morning there it was! And it was always so beautiful. Those were the years of believing, knowing, that Santa did it all. He brought and decorated the tree, ate the cookies we left for him, and left all those wonderful presents. It wasn't until I was approaching my teen years and had a baby brother ten years younger than I, that I became a part of the conspiracy. Waiting until we knew he was sound asleep, my father would then bring in the tree, and put on the lights (with all the grumbling that went with that job) then we got to put on the ornaments and the tinsel.....one strand at a time. The presents still didn't appear under the tree until the next morning. I never did figure out how my Mom (step-mother who is the only mother I know) managed to hide the gifts so that we couldn't find them. She was pretty sneaky!
Next comes to memory the most wonderful Christmases of all. Those were the years of creating the magic for my own children. The joy of seeing their faces on that most special morning of the year still warms my heart. I remember one Christmas morning when my oldest son, Michael, was about three years old, we got him a red fire engine, the kind he could ride in. Well, when we opened the door to the rec room in the basement and he saw that fire engine, he got so excited that he just ran round and round it. I can still see him with his blonde hair and big round blue eyes, wearing his yellow jammies and being so excited we had to tell him to get in and try it. What a perfect memory.
Those Chrismases were long ago, and now I look at our tree with excited anticipation of seeing my grandchildren's eyes light up as they open their presents. No, it's not about the presents, but it is about the family. It's about the joy that comes with the season and the joy of having my family around me.
This year one of my sons will be missing again. He's serving our country far away in Afghanistan, so there will be a void where he should be. It's not the first Christmas he has missed with his wife and family, but it doesn't get any easier. I guess we may have to have another Christmas this year......Christmas in springtime sounds pretty good to me.
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