Posts Tagged ‘memories’

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The Ghosts of Christmas

2009/12/20

As a child, this time of year was always filled with anticipation. Waiting for school to get out, wishing for that one special gift, looking for a white Christmas and trying desperately to get just one more cookie before Mom cut me off. I loved every wondrous and anxious moment of it. Playing in the snow until Mom forced me inside, listening to older family members tell stories of Christmas when they were children and all the sweet treats I had been dreaming about were everywhere. It was all about what was to come. The wonder and majesty of the season revolved around getting to the next step.

As a teenager, I discovered the joy of “Winter Break.” It was that magical time when there was no school, a ton of movies to see and a herd of friends to enjoy that freedom with. There were countless adventures to be had and we did them all together. It was also time to get reacquainted with the family. During the regular school year there was always so much going on, that it was easy to forget there were other people in the house when you left at dawn and got home just before curfew everyday. Getting up on a weekday morning to share a bowl of Apple Jacks with my baby sister and listen to my brothers work out their strategy for optimum lift and speed for sledding on Holly Hill that day was a precious chance to be in their lives again. Being a teenager during the holidays was about slowing down long enough appreciate what I had as I worked on what was to come.

In my twenties, the holidays became a series of rushes. A rush to get more hours, to get more done, to get ahead. At that point, life was rushing by and it took my complete attention to make it all work. You live completely in the moment then, just trying to make it to the end of the day. The only way I knew it was Christmas was when old friends showed up for their annual visit home, and that one precious day off to share with my family the fruits of my labors. The other kids were finally growing up, leaving only my baby sister as a teenager, but we all made the time to share Christmas Day together, because it was important. It was one day where we could stop and reflect on the previous year, and on our shared past. One day, in a busy life, where we were still our parents’ children and we could remember why that made us feel so good.

When my thirties rolled around, the holidays changed again. Now there were children running everywhere, and the wonder and majesty of the season could be seen reflecting through their eyes. The excitement was back, and I found myself anticipating the big day again. Seeing them dance and sing with each snow storm, hearing them rattle off their wish lists and dirtying up the house together making cookies or presents or decorations brought all the magic back. It also gave me a chance to share my memories of childhood with them. Telling them the story of how their Dad spent so long in the snow building a fort he almost had frostbite on his butt, or how their Mom would spent hours trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue, or the times they were so excited for Christmas they didn’t trust each other not to sneak downstairs first, so they camped out in one bedroom with sleeping bags, giggling all night long as they waited for the sun to rise. And just like that, the holidays became about anticipation and living in the moment and remembering the past, all at once.

I’ll spend some time today wrapping presents for the kids and thinking about their reactions. I’ll take a little time to work out the feast prep game plan with my mother. I’ve been spending time with friends, both old and new, sharing the moment together and enjoying their company. And later, much like I am now, I will reflect on the holidays past, and take joy from the memories shared over a lifetime.

May the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future always haunt your life, so you will never forget the real meanings of the season.

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