The Spirit of Christmas Past
“Tis the season,” as they say, and it gets earlier each year. The endless bombardment of advertisements show perfect Hallmark families who urge us to buy items we can’t live without. The loud family I came from is never depicted in commercials, and it makes me love my people all the more.
As I’ve grown older, the holidays have taken on a different note. I don’t hear the jingle of sleigh-bells I played with when young. I now hear the somber sound of a church bell, muffled by fog. A wistful cry only my ears perceive.
Thanksgiving and Christmas have become times for reflection. My mind is occupied with memories of loved ones who won’t be here to sit around a candle-lit dinner table, engaged in passionate arguments of no consequence. Husband, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends long gone, all dwell on the other side of the veil. I miss them.
Like leaves gently carried on an autumn breeze, my few remaining family members lie scattered across the country, engrossed in their busy lives.
Yesterday, in a small attempt to get into the holiday spirit, I made myself a Peppermint Mocha. When I wrapped my cold hands around the mug to soak up the warmth, I tumbled back to a time when I was ten years old. I braced a rickety wooden ladder that my dad stood upon. The zippers of our winter jackets kissed our chins. I felt so grown up, and the excitement that radiated through my body made it hard to stand still. I was Dad’s assistant as he strung Christmas lights along the eaves. We began our task in daylight, but darkness and fog crept in like wolves to investigate our efforts.
The cold stiffened my fingers, making the flashlight difficult to hold. A stream of mist escaped my mouth with every breath. Dad encouraged me to go inside to get warm, but I refused. Mother came out during our labors and surprised me with a hot chocolate. I held the cup with both hands, and placed my frozen nose over the sweet smelling steam, trying to absorb the heat. In that moment, an endearing memory solidified into crystalline form. A precious gift delivered.
I smiled up at my dad and raised my cup. He grinned in return. Once the last light was secured, he cautiously made his way down the ladder. “Do you want to see our handiwork?”
“Yes!” I shouted.
He plugged the electrical cord into the socket, and the red, blue, and yellow bulbs blinked to life. I was enchanted. Our house was properly decked to greet Santa.
During this time of year, I remind myself of the treasured gifts I still possess, and remember that loved ones are near. They remain lovingly wrapped within the walls of my heart, no matter where they rest.
Written By Erin G. Burrell
Author of That’s Why You’re Here