This is such a bittersweet time of the year for me. Emotions will soar high one moment and then sink to the lowest of lows within seconds. In between? Well, it’s a rollercoaster ride at best. This is the peak of the memory season. The holidays force it on us. We will spend time thinking of the good memories we’ve had and allow them to fill us with happiness and high spirits. And, just as easily, the sadness of times gone bad will sneak in and burden our hearts once more.
On Christmas morning, when I was a child, my brother and I were not allowed downstairs until my father was up and ready to lead the procession down to the living room. Sometimes I thought he would never come out of the bathroom, put on his robe and slippers and then finally proceed to the top of the stairs. While all this transpired in super slow motion my brother and I would lie on our bellies and slide down the first few steps to confirm that Santa, indeed, had been there. I am sure my father got a kick out of our impatience with him. I loved him tremendously. On December 19, 1982 while I was Christmas shopping at a mall, my father was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. By the time he got there, he was brain dead and in a coma that would last all through the holiday until he died the first week in January. Yes, the highs and lows of Christmas memories. Most of us have our very own collection and they all come pouring out at this time of the year.
My Christmases, like my life, are packaged in distinct time periods. There were the Christmases of childhood, filled with wonder and fantasy—feelings you would never experience again but would live on as cherished memories. I got a cowboy and Indian fort one year, trains in another and a sled along with a gazillion forgotten toys and games. Next come the Christmases of young adulthood. All of a sudden, clothes are actually welcomed gifts and you can’t wait to wear them when school resumes. Hobbies and isolated interests are easy targets for gifts. I got a camera, tons of records (the round vinyl kind that played music) and books. When adulthood Christmases arrive, they involve new family members: a wife, children, pets. Now Christmas involves giving much more than receiving.
Over the years, through all these Christmases, the memories and emotions grow bountiful. There is no stopping them, both the good and the not-so-good. And, as we each host our own personal version, there is a shared atmosphere exploding with love and care that we all experience. It is unique and feels like none other. This is what the magic of Christmas is all about. Often, we think it comes too quickly…but does it really?