Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nostalgia

 This little stocking was on my parents' tree when I was little.  
When my Mom divided up their ornaments 
among my sisters and I a number of years ago, 
I asked for this little one especially.  
It's on my tree now.

Christmas, it seems to me, is the most nostalgia-inducing time of the year.  I suppose that's because I've been blessed with good memories of pleasant times with family and friends during this time of year.  I know many people find this season to be painful, even unbearable, for a multitude of reasons.  My heart goes out to them.  Still, I'm glad to enjoy the memories the Christmas season brings.

I remember being little, maybe 4 or 5 years old, and going to bed on Christmas Eve.  It was a very cold, very clear night, and I could lay with my head near the foot of my bed and look at the sky and see the stars.  It was very beautiful.  Suddenly I saw a red light, blinking, very high up and moving along on its own.  I was sure it was Rudolph, pulling Santa's sleigh, and I drifted off to sleep knowing that in the morning there would be presents under the tree.

I remember visiting both of my grandmothers at Christmas (they lived in the same city), and my grandpa.  Grandma and Grandma Thompson's house was small, but always warm and neat.  They had a small artificial tree with the usual pretties on it.  What I really remember was the love I felt there, and Grandma's sugar cookies.  Grandma Fast and my (great) Aunt Liz's house was a little bigger, and a little chillier in the winter, but still warm with love.  When we visited, my sister and I slept upstairs in a long, narrow room under the eaves.  Grandma Fast's house always smelled of old wood floors, the musty-damp smell of an old basement, and of strong, dark percolated coffee.  Then Aunt Liz would bake, and the house would smell of pies - apple or pumpkin usually - and sometimes various sorts of cookies.  Their tree had old painted glass ornaments on it.  My mother still has one of those old, battered ornaments left, the last decoration standing from Grandma Fast's house after years of Christmases, kids, cats, and moves.  It's near the top of her tree today.

When I was young, we lived near Cleveland, Ohio.  A couple times we visited the big Higbees department store downtown at Christmas, so my sister and could go through their "kids only" Santa shop to pick out presents for Mom and Dad.  That store seemed so huge and so far away to us then, it was like traveling to the North Pole.  It had huge columns, high ceilings, sparkly chandeliers, and was decorated with what seemed like miles of red and gold ribbon and acres of Christmas trees.  Funny, but I don't remember seeing Santa there, although we probably did after making the special trek into the city.  But years and years later I finally watched "A Christmas Story" and recognized the old Higbees right away.  Deja vu!

One Christmas my parents gave me a guitar.  I had begged to be allowed to change instruments, from the organ to the guitar.  I had no interest in the organ (which must have been a bit of a disappointment to my mother, who was a very proficient organist and took great pleasure in her music).  But my parents decided that a guitar was better than no musical instrument at all, so that Christmas when I was 12 or 13 or so they gave me a guitar.  It was a basic beginner's instrument, with steel strings.  And to my eyes it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL.  The finish on it was a deep cherry red that faded to a lighter red around the pick guard, which was black and had a design of a dove and roses on it.  I took lessons for a couple years, and played that guitar until I went to college, when I bought a somewhat better (and less gaudy) guitar.  That cherry red guitar is long gone, sold at a garage sale to another budding musician.  I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

The Christmas after Safety Guy was born he was still quite tiny, so one night we put him under the Christmas tree with a couple little Winnie The Pooh stuffed toys we'd given him.  He goggled at the lights and flailed his little arms, and I took a picture.  That was a wonderful Christmas.

When Princess Yakyak had her first Christmas, she was scooting across the floor on her fanny to get around.  And OH did she want that brightly decorated tree so BADLY!  We had to put the tree in the family room and block the door with a baby gate to keep her away from it.  She'd scootch over to the gate and stare at the tree, and if we forgot to put the gate up she'd motor right over to the tree, making little happy "ooh ooh ooh" noises, and reach for the low-hanging ornaments.  Naturally, I have pictures of that too.  More good memories.

I could go on.  Maybe I'll share a few more memories later this week.  Today I've got some Christmas shopping to finish and some wrapping to do, cookie dough to make and refrigerate for tomorrow, and some cleaning.  (Somehow cleaning doesn't seem to fit with the litany of pleasant holiday activities, but laundry and housework wait for no one, even at Christmas.)

Merry Christmas, friends, and Happy Holidays as well if you celebrate from a different tradition.

2 comments:

  1. Please share the pics of the kids when they were little at Christmas!! Both memories sound so sweet!

    I pray your family has a wonderful holiday season!

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  2. Oh, I loved this post. It makes me want to write one of my own. We'll see ...

    Also, it was fun to read about your experience at The Christmas Story store. :) Did they have a long slide that the elves pushed the kids down like in the movie?

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