Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Memories

Years and years ago, when I was a child, Santa Claus came on the day of Christmas Eve. By seven or eight o'clock that night, gifts had been wrapped and placed under the Tree...which was behind closed doors.

Always, I heard the jingle of Reindeer's collars on the roof. Always, in my youngest years, there would be a sister who would tell my youngest sister and I stories, to keep us occupied.

Santa disappeared, I was told, if children caught a glimpse of him, when he delivered presents. Along with all the gifts.

After a meal, we were allowed to view the Tree in its splendorous, bedecked glory, with gifts underneath piled high. As our family grew, the gifts did, as well. At my youngest age of memory, it was overwhelming...I remember well how difficult it was to just stand in one place.

But we were expected to sing Christmas Carols. Before opening gifts. This was one of my mother's favourite traditions...the singing of Carols on Christmas Eve.

As I sang, I calmed down a little, I felt myself lost in the beauty of the old German Carols we sung. I especially remember hearing bells in the heartstoppingly beautiful renditions of the music playing on the record player behind us. Those songs that were played will forever remind me of my mother.

And then, as the spell of the Christmas music consumed me, it was time for gifts. My mother would hand them out, and we were expected to wait until she regained her seat, and able to watch us open them.

I was never quite sure how to react when I opened a gift, and so I resorted to enthusiasm and smiles, regardless of what I privately thought of the gift. And thankfully, attention was never centred on me for long, as there were many family members at home on Christmas Eve. The celebrations lasted long into the Night; Christmas Morning was for sleeping in.

When I became a teenager, Christmas Eve and the gifts I received did not seem as important or as thrilling as when I was a youngster. Could I play with a Sweater or a Skirt? I still wanted new toys, toys that could be played with and assembled and imagined with. I wanted books and art supplies, along with the Sweater. For years, it seems to me, I could not quite clear that hump to adulthood...Christmas was a time for the complete child in me.

One who still wanted to play.

And then, the day after my twentieth birthday, my child was born. And Christmas was forever given over to my children, after that day. The child in me delighted in my children's awestruck demeanour, at Santa Claus, at hiking for a Christmas Tree, at the music that filled the Air. At the toys and books and craft items I could make sure they received. The ones that I really wanted to play with.

My favourite gift is still something I can play with over the Christmas Holidays. A book is always a welcome gift, but for the day after, when adrenaline still runs high, I need to work energy off. I think the Cuisinart I received years ago was a great gift. More vegetables were chopped, pizza dough created, cheese grated over the holidays following receipt of this gift than any other time.

Gourmet foods fairly flew out of the kitchen, with my children and their friends being easy targets that year.

When I married, Christmas traditions I had grown up with, where we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, changed to celebrating on Christmas Day, with gifts opened in the morning.
And in so doing, I lost the wonderment of lighting the Night on Christmas Eve, for a time. I lost some of the awe I felt as we sang those songs...Kling, Glockchen, Klingalingaling...I can hear the words now.

But that is the thing about memories...they are always there, when I want to grab them for a look. And as an adult who knows her own mind, I can play these wonderful old songs, and remember the awe and wonder I felt, so long ago, when I sang them.

In memory of both my parents who have passed on, my mother just recently, I have decided I will find a CD with songs similar to the ones that were sung on Christmas Eve during my childhood. Those were the best Christmases, the ones where childlike innocence still reigned. They were the early years in my life; before bad memories superseded and Christmas became, during some years, a trudging climb to get over.

As I read Sheila's post recently, wherein she spoke of favourite Christmas melodies, the memory of my mother's tradition, where her children sung her favourite songs, with voices clear as bells, on Christmas Eve, came clearly to mind.

With it, came the memory of how wonderfully excited I felt, how the anticipation seemed so much better than the real thing.

Once a year, those memories take me back to an innocent time in my life, where the world's experiences lay ahead of me, and there was nothing to fear, nothing to regret.

And there is no greater gift than that.

12 comments:

  1. Another herb lady! Gonna link your blog, if that's okay!!! :)

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  2. Marion,

    Once again you have me wiping away tears as I read your beautiful words.

    You are awesome.

    BFF,
    Miss T

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  3. I like that you are going to find that CD. This is the hard part of growing old to me. We keep losing people from our lives but then new babies come along and we carry on somehow and hold on to memories such as yours.

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  4. PD Warrior8:17 AM

    Marion, Ich kann nicht singen, aber ich kann veleicht noch ein bisschen auf deutsch schreiben...

    Es freut mich immer, Ihre Schreiben zu lesen. Bitte verzeihen Sie mir - mein deutsch ist nicht so gut, denn ich hab viel vergessen.

    Ich wunsche Sie und Ihre Familie Froliches Weihnachten.

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  5. Daisy,

    That would be lovely, thank you! I've been enjoying your site, as well.

    Miss T,

    Thank you, and ditto! Tears come rushing to my eyes at anything that touches my heart...I totally understand!

    Sheila,

    Diana Krall has a CD out, in German, although I don't know what it's like. But she is from a town near where I live; a connection there. It is time to honour my Mom's memory, with Christmas music.

    And those new babies?...you just wait!!!!!lol

    PD!

    When your comment came through, tears started flowing, and memories came rushing back...what a wonderful positive start to my morning! Isn't it odd...I can read German and understand the spoken word, but I cannot write it, to any degree of proficiency, at any rate!

    I want to wish you and your family a Froliches Weihnachten, as well!

    You will never know how much your comment meant to me...thank you.

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  6. Chrisymas is a time for memories but also for looking forward to the New Year and best of all the coming of Spring.

    In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
    Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
    Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
    In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

    Christina Rossetti

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  7. What a wonderful post. It conveys the spirit and the feelings of Christmas and youth. The Antcipation and wonderment of a season that celebrates peace and family. My eyes are filled with tears of happiness and rememberence. I could not have recieved a better gift. Merry Christmas to you for you are truly an angel.

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  8. As we grow older Christmas memories begin taking on some sadness, but remembering the childhood Christmases and seeing the lights in the eyes of the grandchildren make it magic again.

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  9. About the end of May for the waiting, although I'm not writing about it.

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  10. Davem,

    The one great thing about Christmas is the days begin to lengthen, again, and as you say, Spring's not far behind. I love that quote...perhaps it's one that you whisper to yourself as you cycle those cold roads to work!

    Dave,

    Merry Christmas to you! The trick about Christmas is to remember the good, and don't let the bad take precedence.

    Jan,

    Those grandchildren make the bad memories disappear. Aren't they the most wonderful little creatures for blowing away sadness!

    Sheila!

    Oh, my gosh! Well, I have tears of happiness for you...this will be such an awesome time for you! And I will relive it with you.

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  11. "I resorted to enthusiasm and smiles, regardless of what I privately thought of the gift." I can relate to that! There's a family cine film of me receiving Christmas presents aged seven with lucky me receiving... a bow tie! Just what every seven-year-old boy wants... not. The smile on my face is heroic but obviously forced. I can't remember who gave me that bow tie, though, so I obviously didn't bear a grudge...

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  12. Beautiful post Marion. Very inspirational. It brought a tear to my eye. It's wonderful that you have such happy Christmas memories waiting for Der Weihnachtsmann to arrive. Friends tell me that it's wonderful when you have children of your own to watch the same excitement and anticipation in their faces too as they wait for Santa to deliver their presents.

    I hope you manage to find a special CD with German carols like Stille Nacht on there. That would be such a wonderful memory of your parents to have.

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