What a memory rich season this is, perhaps because it’s so full of ritual and repetitive tasks. As I wrapped a few gifts this afternoon, I used some ancient ribbon that I swear could have come from my great-grandmother’s attic. She died when I was four. The ribbon has shiny satin threads — on one side. The other side is dull paper. It works well for puffed bows that are ever so much more elegant than the commercial ones that you simply peel and stick. As I fluffed half a dozen bows, I remembered sitting on my parents’ bed wrapping presents fifty years ago, and learning to make elegant bows. The packages had to be perfectly wrapped, with crisply folded creases, and neatly balanced ends, taped just so.
This year my hubby received his Christmas gift early — a record turntable that plugs directly into the line-in port on a computer. This is the first time in a dozen years that we’ve been able to listen to our old LP albums. We converted half a dozen decades-old Christmas albums to MP3 files. Even with a few hisses and pops, those old songs sound more like Christmas than the newer CD’s we’ve purchased.
We no longer set up a large tree, opting instead for a collection of permanently decorated table-top trees. But those wee trees pack just as much spirit as their full-size cousins, and pondering the glow of the mini-lights reminds me of The Perfect Christmas Tree.
Over the years, Christmas customs at our house have changed dramatically from intense observance to nearly ignoring it, to something more balanced, but the memories of early Christmases remain, and traditions stand firm. They are the touchstone. This is the time of year that brings people together. Whether in the mall, around the eggnog bowl, or in worship services, we meet, we greet, and we all wish for Peace On Earth. Ultimately, that's the Reason For the Season.
I wish you a Merry Christmas, and hope that you’ll find a few minutes in the post-Christmas lull to sit in the glow of the tree with pen and paper and capture some of your Christmas memories and stories. That’s a great lead-in to a strong story start for the New Year that’s only hours away.
Write now: some notes of Christmas memories that you can transform into stories in a few days. What do you remember about Santa Claus? How did you learn to wrap gifts? What was the most exciting gift you ever got? Ever gave? What was your menu for Christmas dinner? Did you enjoy the day? Why or why not? How has Christmas changed for you?
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal