Memories of Christmas Past For Comfort and Joy
All Senses On Alert - Christmas Is Approaching
What comfort and warmth memories of northern Christmases past can bring! Scents and sounds like no other season fill us with wonder as the cold freezes our nostrils shut. Fluffy snow muffles the ground and rounds the sharp corners of everyday frenzied conversations. Expectations of gingerbread and mincemeat make our mouths water. Christmas is a time for the senses!
One of my favorite sets of scenes from the film Dr. Zhivago picture winter at the cottage at Varykino Estate. The exterior shots of untouched, snow covered land leading to an isolated white-muffled house are peaceful, yet stunning. Interior scenes of the hideaway blanketed outside with snow - cold, yet illuminated with bright sunshine streaming in through the windows, are indelible. The poetry and relationship created there in the summer cottage during winter are magical. This is a Christmas house out of season.
These are the types of memories and awaited treats that create Christmas for me on Earth, while I commemorate my Gift from Heaven. I may not be able to see God's face, or to be able to reach out and touch it as did the young RCAF pilot and poet John Gillespee Magee, Jr. in High Flight, but I can feel God's Gift around me. Even though I have lost family and friends in death, I can take Christmas memories into the future.
I've a good memory, being able to recall my first birthday; but, my first Christmas occurred when I was just 4 months old, so I've no memory of that. Christmas memories began for me in the autumn after my first birthday, when I learned to read and write by watching news programs.
One of the newsmen on television used a large chalkboard and wrote the news as he spoke, so I learned some of my first words from him, about Christmas -- Or so I am told, because even though I can see the chalkboard in my mind, I cannot recall the text. From family stories oft repeated around me in my youth, I watched a news special at age one about Christmas at all the shopping centers, with a Santa Claus appearing at each one simultaneously.
The program went on to sell cardboard cutout sets of Santa, a sleigh, and reindeer for rooftop decor during the Holiday Season. The newsman and some visitors demonstrated how to assemble the large cutouts and get them to the roof. My parents must not have been watching me closely as I took in this commercial, for soon after, they put me in the front seat of the car to drive around town to see the lights and decorations. My mother pointed and encouraged me to look at a particular rooftop that displayed Santa - "Look! Santa Claus!"
I shouted, "CARDBOARD!"
Not believing in Santa, I still enjoyed watching a show about a toy shop every afternoon. Annually, the proprietress, Lucy, took us on a journey every day in December. It was like an early transporter effect and probably my first experience with the concept of other dimensions. In her shop, she pivoted in a slow continuing circle as we saw big snowflakes fall. The picture changed and she was standing at the North Pole, where she took us to Santa's Toy Shop and we had a nice daily visit and a cartoon until Christmas. I remember that particular Santa's energetic and friendly Ho! Ho! Ho! and it's a good memory.
Lucy and Santa told us kids how the shopping center Santas were his helpers and that some toys were even made by toymakers at big companies in our own city, rather than all made at the North Pole. This was a note of honesty I appreciated.
At home, my father taught that Santa represented the Spirit of Christmas and that the spirit was real. I can believe that, so that's what Santa is to me. He is the icon of giving with good humor to edify the recipient. In the film The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Santa is the harbinger that proclaims the coming of the infant Jesus - the Greatest Gift of the faith-based part of the holiday - and I like that as well. That's the other part of Christmas for me to which I can add good memories..
Presents are fun to select for people that I know. I match them to reflect not only friends' preferences, but also their dreams. This is Christmas gift giving to me. For friends no longer on Earth, I often make a donation in their remembrance to a charity.
As friends begin to pass away, fewer opportunities for gift giving are available until I make additional friends. However, at Christmas, I bring out ornaments and other small gifts all my friends have given me and place them in a display in my bedroom on a bureau. These are good memories.
Other good memories are DVDs of movies friends and I have enjoyed together, especially at Christmastime. I pull them out and enjoy them again during visits with current friends over the holidays. Some of these films include
- A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey - The 3D effects are fantastic in this film.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- The Santa Clause with Tim Allen
- A Christmas Story - The film with the leg lamp.
- A Nightmare Before Christmas - Animated and hilarious.
- Kung Fu Hustle - Not Christmas, but it's hilarious - especially to some of us martial artists.
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On Christmas Eve Night, the animals can talk and they celebrate the coming of the Messiah. This is one of my favorite legends, offered here as a childrens' book.
Bubble lights are my favorite holiday lighting option and I look for American Made lights for Christmas and other holidays (Chinese made Christmas lights are made by enslaved people there). The bubble lights are available in a range of colors, including red for Valentine's Day and even orange and black.
I used to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's with good friends for several years and one of the things we did was to decorate with bubble lights. We'd also read our favorite Christmas stories, watch films, go to our favorite cafes and leave big tips, and visit a chapel. Then we would drive through one of the large drive-thru Christmas Light Displays in the area and spend time at winter street fairs.
Even though some of my friends are no longer here, I can continue to enjoy these traditions and share them with old and new friends. Our own Columbus Zoo has a wonderful Wild Lights show for several weeks annually, with more activities added each Christmas Season and a great drive-thru light show nearby.
Christmas should be full of light and hope and friendship appreciated now, but good memories of the past can be part of that, too, and make better Christmases for us all.
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