Cherished Christmas Memories

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When Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie no longer excites our taste buds, most of us turn our thoughts to Christmas. Cherished memories prompt us to actions, often mimicking years past.

When my girls were little, I always took them shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. We would window shop and watch the animated figures trimming a tree or singing carols. Of course we would visit Santa Claus and I would have their pictures taken. Lunch was a special treat at a very nice restaurant and then we would stroll through the stores and buy Christmas gifts. We always managed to buy one or two new ornaments for the tree and a special one for each girl.

I think most people who celebrate Christmas have similar memories. My very grown-up daughters still talk about those days. They were special, frequently because parents worked hard to make them into cherished memories, memories which can be re-examined anytime we choose to do so.

As parents, we remember the looks of awe and wonder as little ones visited Santa or saw the Christmas tree lit for the first time. The smell of anise cookies fresh from the oven recalls the fun of decorating cookies. It did not matter if there was a blob of icing on one point of a star or if too much green sugar turned a cookie into an unrecognizable color. Even drops of icing on the floor never deterred our dedication because the dog liked icing and would obligingly clean the tile.

Decorating the house was a task that filled many days. Flood lights illuminated the manger scene and various Christmas icons, while twinkling colored lights on all the windows welcomed people to our house. Of course both the front and back doors boasted a home-made wreath.

Getting the perfect tree was a scene from a Christmas movie. The last year Dad and I went to the tree farm, my girls were at home because the snow was too deep for them to walk through. We chose a Blue Spruce, tall and elegant. I lay on the ground and sawed the trunk close to the ground so as to keep all of its height intact. After paying for it, I tied a rope to the bottom and dragged it to the car. Unfortunately I was unaware of a hole disguised by the snow so I dropped into it up to my armpits. What a job it was to climb out of that hole while Dad stood nearby laughing.

Years pass and families change. People develop new lifestyles. In my case, following unexpected open heart surgery, I decided to move to the southwest because my youngest daughter’s husband was stationed at an Air Force base there. I had always wanted to visit the area and immediately fell in love with it. The only thing missing was little children. After eight years of trying to become pregnant, my daughter and her husband adopted a baby boy. As so often happens, she gave birth to another boy about three years later and a girl two years after that.

I spent as much time with “my kids” as possible. I watched them when mommy and daddy were at work or had a date night. We played, shopped and ate meals together. All the while I was building a new set of memories and then the inevitable occurred. My house of bottles, diapers and basketballs crashed down when I learned my son-in-law was being transferred overseas.
It is said that whenever a door closes, another opens. Although it was hard to say goodbye, especially to my five year old grandson, we promised to talk to each other on the computer. Now both boys ask to call me and we speak as often as possible, sometimes daily.

Another door opened because my daughters were worried about me living so far from any relatives. For that reason, I moved across the country again.

One of my daughters lives nearby with her husband and young teenager. When I was thousands of miles away, it was hard to maintain a relationship with him. Now I anticipate Christmas and the treasure hunt I am preparing for him. That was something I did when my girls were young and we all have fond memories of following the clues to find our personal treasures.

Today I am building new memories and that is what life is all about. We have learned not to put too much stress on ourselves but instead recall the old times and work on creating new memories. That is how traditions are built, traditions which cement families and friends in a spirit of camaraderie. For that reason, I will lift my glass of wine and wish all of you an especially happy holiday season filled with countless cherished memories.


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