Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas That I Knew & A Christmas Anew

Charlie our Christmas Tree
Picture this:  Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” playing in the background dun nuh nuh duh nuh nuh, duh-nuh; the smell of Nestle Toll House cookies (with extra walnuts) wafting through the air; the chilly still morning out the front window; the fireplace crackling, small sparks of bright orange jumping from wooden logs; bits of wrapping paper and over turned stockings lining the floor; and five smiling people curled up on the sofas: 1 daddy and 1 mommy, both drinking coffee from large mugs, and 3 girls in matching red and green flannel pajamas, each with a plate full of different cookies (peppermint snowballs topped with powder sugar, bendable almond lace cookies edged with dark chocolate, and coconut bon bons with a large almond on the top); laughter mixing in with the jolly piano tunes; and warmth filling the medium sized living room, not just from the fireplace, but from the feelings of family and love surrounding them all.
This has always been my Christmas. 
This scene was usually followed by a day of movies that we received as gifts, a nap, family games like Apples to Apples or Scrabble, and of course a delicious meal my mother prepared impeccably, including a brown sugar ham, greens and ham hocks, mashed potatoes, homemade baked macaroni and cheese, and butter smothered buns. 
I thought I’d use this blog post to reflect on the childhood Christmas that I knew.  The late night chats my sisters and I would have early on Christmas morning before my parents allowed us to get up and open presents, the three of us packed inside a small room on cots, inflatable beds, or on the only bed in that room.  The compilation of holiday movies my mom recorded on a VHS when we were very young, the one we memorized and called “The Long Charlie Brown” which included not only holiday greats like “A Claymation Christmas”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, and “Garfield’s Christmas”, but also old, OLD commercials like the red-head pretending to skate in a “world wide championship” as she enjoyed a York Peppermint Patty, or the Doublemint twins riding on a bicycle while a song sings “that cool refreshing feeling of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum.  Puts a sparkle in your eye, a spring in your step, and makes things lots of fun!”  Or the anticipation of tasting cookies from new recipes I found, which usually led to me making so many cookies, that we could never finish them all!
Although this has always been my Christmas, I knew that change was bound to happen.  People grow up and move away.  Traditions shift.  Families change (grow or shrink).  But even though I knew change would come, it didn’t make the transition any easier. 
As an adult, Christmas definitely feels different.  But it’s bittersweet.  Today I said farewell to my childhood Christmas, and hello to a new chapter in my own book.  My first Christmas away from my family, but my first Christmas shared with my new family, the family of my wonderful fiancé.  And so, I welcome the change that follows, but I keep the warmth of my past Christmases in my heart.  And I hope that as I build new and memorable traditions, I will be able to capture the true happiness I felt as a child each year when Christmas came, capture it in my poems and stories, so that these feelings of happiness and joy will be forever held for others to share, and for me to look back at and reminisce.


  1. This is just lovely, JaNay. Sharing holidays is one of the most difficult challenges of blending families through marriage. Memories become even more important because some years that's all you have. I know you will turn much of this into stories and poems because you are such a natural writer, and others will share your joy.

  2. Thank you Rosi! My Christmas was definitely different, but it ended up being wonderful! Now, there are new traditions that I got to share this year that I plan to continue on. Change is hard, but change is good.