With Christmas just two days away, it's time for me to reflect on other Christmas memories. I realize those memories provide an insight into the kind of writer I will be in the future...
Circa 1971...The Ghosts of Christmas Past
When I was small, Christmas was probably the happiest time of my life. We were extremely poor, but my mother always managed to make Christmas magical to me. We had some family traditions back then that laid the foundation of how I celebrate the season today. There was always the trip out in the country to hand pick our real Christmas tree. Then came the stringing of popcorn and red berries, along with handmade ornaments to decorate it. Huge globes of colored lights twinkled in the darkness as we sat looking at our work of art on cold December nights. Homemade hot cocoa and decorated treats made by my mother are so real to me that I can almost taste it today. And I can't forget the antique musical church that had a wind up key in the back. How I used to beg to wind up that church. I would sit for hours as Silent Night played and the doors of the church swung open to display the lighted nativity inside. That church still holds a place of honor by every Christmas tree I display today.
Circa 1991...The Ghosts of Christmas Present
My son is about 4 years old and wants a baby doll for Christmas. He is old enough to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and I am a new single mom on a very tight budget. We have no money for a Christmas tree so he and I take green poster board and draw a tree. We tape it up on our wall and color homemade ornaments to tape to it (thanks, Mom, for the memories of homemade ornaments from Christmases past). I drape the only store bought item I have, gold tinsel, all over the tree and I set a small table under it for our meager presents. On Christmas Eve we drive around to look at the pretty Christmas lights on other people's houses, and my son is worried Santa will come before we get back. We arrive back at our small apartment to see the lights of an airplane overhead and my son is SURE this is Santa. He becomes upset because we are not asleep in bed yet. I reassure him that Santa has many stops to make before he gets to our place. We race up the stairs to put out cookies and milk for Santa, carrots and peanut butter/raisin balls for the reindeer and tumble into bed so we can fall asleep before the big guy arrives. I even promise my son Santa will be able to get into our apartment even though we have no fireplace because we leave the front door unlocked for him this night. I will never forget the surprise on my son's face when the next morning he discovers grass clippings on the floor leading to the door and all the treats half eaten. But I will carry with me the wonder of the holidays always as my son unwraps his present from Santa to find the baby doll he names Fred...paid for from many pennies saved over the previous year.
Circa 2012...The Ghosts of Christmas Future
My son is grown up now and lives on his own. I have tried to teach him about the magic of Christmas and the strength of tradition but he is young and is more tied to the techno world of today than the traditions of the past. For myself, this past year has been a year of surprises and growth for me as a writer. I have made new friends, learned new lessons, and set new goals for the upcoming year. But I have not forgotten what my mother taught me so many years ago. Traditions create a foundation that families can cling to if the future turns dark. And I can hold my own holiday traditions close to me, my Christmas Memories, to help flavor all the writing I do in the future. And who knows? Maybe one of my stories will help create someone else's Christmas Memories in their future!
Merry Christmas to all my online friends and may the new year be one of fabulous memories for us all...