Ghosts of Christmas Pasts

I’m sitting at the computer watching snow on the first day of winter,  Christmas songs filling the room yet the feeling that gnawing pang of loss I always feel this time of year shoves its way into center stage. What is it all about?  I guess the obvious answer is simply Christmas is when we gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus by attending candlelight services, opening gifts, eating tons of food, and enjoying ourselves.  It’s also for me a small  reminder of those who will not be with us around the dining table, nor have they been for many,many years.  I am glad it’s not a constant blue Christmas, but just a little piece of my heart  remembers.  It always remembers – especially the good.  Oddly – it’s through food I connect some memories.  Chocolate fudge I always associate with my mom and how it always turned out beautifully.  I’ve tried to  make it several times, but ended up with a good chocolate sauce for ice cream.  I always thought that tradition died with her, but I hear my older daughter has made a batch.   However, I have mastered mom’s dressing and the taste brings back sweet memories.  Even memories of my dad, who would meet me in the kitchen the morning after Christmas, ready to eat cold turkey and dressing for breakfast.  Something I still do today, as well as my my children.

Not all of my memories are food related, but snow related.  My  brother-in-law, Jeff, always loved having a white Christmas, or at least the possibility of one.  So as snow falls outside my window, I can’t help but imagine Jeff up by the storehouse of snow in heaven, purposefully dumping it on our city and loving every minute of it.   Speaking of my brother-in-law, I cannot help but laugh when I see Kmart commercials this time of year and his infamous Blue Light Special Christmas gifts he would buy as divine inspiration from above.  He certainly had a flair for creative.  Who else would come up with the idea of using a crossbow case as a keyboard case complete with images of deer embossed on top.  Still one of my favorite gifts.

However, my most favorite memory of all is of Jeff and Kent dressed in bathrobes, cottonball beards, pillow case shepherds hats and canes as shepherds crooks.  Their schtick was worthy of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis or Abbot and Costello as they told their eyewitness account of seeing the angels and the baby Jesus.  When asked what sore afraid meant – they just looked at each other and belly flopped to the ground demonstrating how they immediately fell down before the angels and afterwards they were well —sore.   Do you know what swaddling clothes are?  According to these shepherds, it was what you wrapped your swaddle in.

 I am thankful for all of my memories – the good and the bad.  I hang on to the good ones because they bring me comfort and joy.  I remember the bad ones because they make my good memories much sweeter.  It all reminds me of a quote from Doctor Who -Every life is a pile of good things and bad things.  The good things don’t always soften the bad things but vice versa.  The bad things won’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.  Live your life adding to the good pile of others.  So as you sing your songs, eat your food, open your gifts,  make a pile of good things for those gathered around your table this season.  They might provide a bit comfort during those upcoming bad things that will inevitably happen.


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