During this holiday season it's hard not to get mired down in the festivities of parties, gift giving, and dinners and remember the real reason for the holiday. The birth of the baby Jesus. A rebirth of the new year to come. Hope and excitement for new experiences.
I have many memories associated with different Christmases that conjure up pictures in my mind of seasons past. One of the hardest for me this year was wrapping presents without the "help" of my kitty Charlie. Even though I have two other cats they could have cared less what I was doing in the spare bedroom! The present wrapping and decorating of the tree always held such fascination for Charlie. He would chase after the ribbon and chew it to pieces. He would play hide and seek in the tissue paper ripping it to shreds as he would wiggle his rear end and jump into a pile of it as it slid across the floor. I would find bows under the couch six months after the holiday.
One year I found a cashmere sweater completely unwrapped. Twice. I finally had to hide it because, for some reason, the attraction to the smell and feel of that sweater was just too much for him to resist. And don't get me started on the ornaments and tree climbing. I have almost all hand blown glass ornaments and he would decide to play what I would call his "kitty in the jungle" game where he would hide in the bushes, or in this case the Christmas tree, and jump out at whoever walked by. Not good when everything around him was so breakable!
I also have wonderful memories of my stepmother and how she worked so hard each year for every one of her children and grandchildren to have a wonderful holiday experience. She set the dinner table with her best china and silverware. When we were younger, and there were less of us, she and my father would buy each one of us a special Christmas ornament and set it on our dinner plates waiting for us to arrive. There was always a beautiful center piece, pretty napkins, and candles lit. We would come into the dining room and look at her gorgeous handiwork and everyone would be filled with admiration and glee. And the delicious dinner that was always the same no matter how much her and dad might want something different. Ham, Shirley Shaw potatoes, green bean casserole and pistachio salad. Yum...can't wait! We still have almost the identical meal because no one ever gets tired of it.
I have memories of laughter at work. One year all of us in the office had a decorating contest with the press operators. We covered every window with lights. Decorated a Christmas tree. Hung ornaments and decorations throughout the pressroom office. I remember one of my co-workers and I turning off the overhead lights and sitting by the glow of all the multi-colored lights working and laughing. This year there are no presents, no laughter, no sharing. Almost no lights other than on my desk and the tree looks bedraggled and sad. It's hard when time and circumstances change!
And most of all, I have memories of my daughter on Christmas morning. Waiting anxiously for her to get up. No early riser my sleepy headed little girl! I would finally have to go into the bedroom and wake her up so that we would have time to open presents and eat breakfast before we had to leave for family functions. I always thought it was so funny that when I was small my sisters, brother and I would be up at the crack of dawn wanting to run into the living room and see what Santa brought us and open presents. My mom..er I mean Santa..would put our stockings on the end of our beds so that we would have something to open and look at and candy to eat and, hopefully, allow her (and dad when he lived with us) to sleep in to a somewhat reasonable hour.
I'm sure everyone has their holiday traditions and memories. Good and bad. Happy and sad. I'm trying to focus on the good ones this year. I keep feeling myself trying to slip back into old ways and sadness for what has gone by. But I know the future is so bright and shiny that it can only be a joylicious holiday!