a Christmas memory

For today’s post, I thought I’d share a Christmas memory from my younger days. Yes, I get a bit nostalgic during this time of the year, and I can’t help but hink fondly of my childhood, and the magic that Christmas always brought into my life.

   My mother’s family was fairly large. She had five surviving sisters, plus their husbands and children, so our family get-togethers on Christmas Eve tended to be fairly large and more than a little crazy.

   We would all gather at my maternal grandparents’ house, where we had kind of a potluck that always ended up being more of a cookie feast. We would spend about an hour eating great holiday food that, for some reason, never made it to a table at any other time of the year.

   After the social hour was done, we would all load our plates, find a chair, and watch a show put on by the kids. We would play instruments, sing, or act in some Christmas themed mini-play. My mom and her sisters would also sing, and I loved hearing the Christmas carols in five part harmony. Then my grandfather would read the Christmas story from his ancient Bible, and we would all recite the parts we knew from memory.

   Then came the best part – the gift exchange. We drew names for our Christmas Eve gift giving because we were such a large group. But the kids all got a pair of pajamas from grandma and grandpa, and a gift envelope containing five dollars!

   After grandma passed, we continued to meet on Christmas Eve, but divided our gathering between two houses. We started at Aunt Bev and Uncle Walt’s, with cookies, assorted holiday treats, and paper cups of split pea soup or clam chowder. Then we would head over to Aunt Lucile and Uncle Willard’s for the program and the gift exchange.

   This continued for the next twenty-two years, and ended with the passing of my grandfather. After that, the families no longer met on Christmas Eve, but by that time, the kids were all adults with families of their own.

   This year marks twenty years since the death of my grandfather, and ten since that of my father.  Maybe it’s for that reason that I find myself lost in Christmas past more so than usual. I don’t know. What I do know is that I miss the childish excitement of those Christmas gatherings. I miss filling my clam chowder cup with oyster crackers, and keeping a watchful eye on the table to make sure that I was first in line when the second round of cookies came out. I miss the wide-eyed anticipation of lifting the flap of that little white envelope and seeing Lincoln inside, even though I already knew that he’d be in there, waiting for me. I miss those that we’ve lost, and the sense of family that has faded so much over the years. Above all, I miss the magic that fell with each drifting snowflake, coating my world with a wintry blanket that promised reindeer, and elves, and a treasure trove of gifts that would be traded for the cookies left on the dining room table. I don’t know. I just know that something special died with my grandfather, and whatever it was hasn’t been seen since by these eyes.  

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