Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Memories

I never really gave much thought to all of the work that went into making the holidays of my childhood so memorable. It didn't occur to me that my mom's constant baking, sewing, shopping , wrapping, writing, mailing, cooking - alongside the extra activities of Christmas pageants and holiday recitals - would make her holiday hectic. I never recall her appearing stressed or anxious as I so often have felt over the last few weeks preparing for the "Big Day".

I asked my mom a few weeks back which toy waiting for me Christmas morning did she think had the biggest impact on me. She thought that it was likely a "Baby That Away" doll I received when I was 7 or so. We travelled to British Columbia that Christmas to spend it with family there. I know the pictures of me clutching my new doll during that vacation. I remember wanting it, and being enthralled upon receiving her by her endless crawling, punctuated by temper tantrum style flailings of her arms and legs. But I don't remember much of the doll after that. She was hard, painted plastic and didn't offer the same comfort I found in my tattered old beanbag doll that accompanied me everywhere.

What I really remember most from Christmas past is the feeling of comfort home provided. As a child I loved the holidays, which inevitably included various members of our extended famly descending on our home and a chance to play with cousins I rarely got to see. I remember the carefully prepared baking that stayed in the freezer until the holidays were upon us and we could enjoy the treats we only had once a year. I remember the nightgowns under the tree that were opened Christmas eve and floor-length dresses sewn by my mom that I would wear with pride to the dinner table Christmas day. The table was always carefully set. Even the children were allowed to eat off the china and use the good silver. I remember my dad carving the turkey, and how my younger brother would always want the drumstick. I remember the fun of wearing the paper crown that emerged from our crackers before dessert and the struggles to keep the Christmas pudding alight. I remember smiles and laughter so strong it knocked me out of my seat.

Almost all the toys I received from Christmases past are gone. I have no idea when Baby That Away left me. But I cherish all those memories. Those smiles and that laughter. And I know I can keep that forever. Wherever I am and wherever I go. Whomever I spend Christmas with. Those memories are with me.

I am working hard to make those memories for my bugs. So that they can have them forever too.

Merry Christmas to all.

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