Dressed in a black velvet dress with a white furry collar, white leggings and black patent leather shoes, I demurely awaited Christmas dinner. Mother and grandmother clearly approved of my lady-like disposition as I sat in the thickly upholstered chair with my feet far from touching the floor. Next to me the crackling fire raged in the stone fireplace and warmed my feet. As I gazed at the Christmas tree that reached to the high ceiling, I became mesmerized by the colored lights shining on the red and green ornaments and silver tinsel. The scent of pine filled the room. Newly opened boxes in many sizes and shapes remained under the tree. On top of the baby grand piano sat candelabras whose shimmering light sent flickering shadows around the large room. Despite the warm fire, the room felt cold, or perhaps it only seemed cold because the snow was piled high on the outside windowsill and the oak trees swayed in the blustery wind.
Having spent the day excitedly opening gifts and receiving everything I had asked Santa for, I was content on the outside but inside, I wanted to run and play with daddy and grandpop. I was bursting with energy but was relegated to the living room to await the evening feast. I felt uncomfortable in the crinolines under my dress that made my legs itch and the shoe straps across my feet would have cut into my skin save for the perfectly turned down white socks.
But I was so much younger then. I remember those years with sad fondness. The people are gone and the old-fashioned ambiance of my family’s traditional Christmas is gone with them. The little girl I was is much older now and my ideas of this holiday are tainted by what I see all around me. The general disregard for the problems facing the future of humanity as evidenced by the demands for more of everything, is more apparent to me now.
Although the luster of Christmas has dimmed for me, I believe that Christmas is still magical for children. I could not be more grateful to be able to be a part of children’s joy this year for the holidays. Many people have been buying our books as gifts from Santa to their children. I can picture their faces light up when they see the colorful illustrations and they read the story of Libbie’s rescue from the supermarket tank. I would like to think Heather Chalmers and I are like Santa’s elves who worked happily to bring joy to children.
Now instead of snow laden oak trees outside my window, I see regal palm trees with Christmas lights snaking up their trunks against a backdrop of blue ocean. I could not be happier. It has been said that with age comes wisdom, so wiser now, I can enjoy making new memories of holidays with friends and their little ones.
What are your earliest memories of Christmas? And how has that changed for you?