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Christmas Past

I wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit this year, it just seemed different. Instead of Crosby’s White Christmas, I resonated more with the vibe of Joni Mitchell’s voice, “I wish I had river to skate away on.” So, in the quiet of the cold winter afternoon, I sat down with a cup of hot chocolate to lift my spirit. As I took my first sip, I noticed snowflakes lightly falling outside my window; it felt like I was inside a snow globe. Seemed like a perfect Christmas Eve moment, but imperfect timing. My son’s visit had to be rescheduled due to an unexpected storm and for the first time in decades, it was just me. I thought of Christmas past.

My mind flashed back to a scene of my youth. It was one of the many super eight silent movie clips spliced together and transferred to VHS tape for my parents 40th wedding anniversary in 1990. I could see the scene in my mind’s eye of a Christmas long ago. I must have been around ten. Everyone was at my cousin’s house for this festive occasion complete with an aluminum Christmas Tree! All the girls were in their best party dress and the boys in their button downed, collared shirts and dress slacks. The adults were wearing their holiday finest, too! Snippets of faces filmed were smiling, laughing, and coming through the front door with presents. The kids, ranging from around seven to seventeen, were all in the adjoining living room dancing their best twist or jitterbug. I could almost hear the laughter and chattering with Jingle Bell Rock playing in the background. My eldest cousin got a weight set for Christmas that year, so we used the metal pole as a limbo stick. It was an instant hit! “How low can you go?” sang Chubby Checker daring us all to take the challenge. The line formed and one by one we went under that pole. Although we had to make one exception, lifting it up over my grandmother as she lowered herself as far as she could. This was Christmas, dancing, laughter and being together with family and friends. A shared experience of pure joy.

This December would have been my parents 72nd Wedding anniversary. They’re both gone now. Most of the people in that movie clip have left this life, too, and those kids are now in their sixties and seventies with kids and grandkids of their own. This nostalgic reflection makes me smile knowing how lucky I am to have lived in a time where memories like these were made, were shared. An unexpected gift that has left me with a grateful heart and renewed spirit of the season.

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