|(c) Howard Hudson (2006)|
Christmas is a season of memories and emotions. Our first recollections of Christmas are generally as a child. I can remember a blue tricycle with a white seat, scrawny trees with big bulb lights, bayberry candles, and a shiny metallic silver tree skirt, and company, lots and lots of company. One year I recall an aluminum Christmas tree with a spot light shining on it, a four part plastic wheel casting colored shadows on the wall. I can remember as a child driving a visiting Aunt absolutely crazy asking “is it Christmas yet?” over and over and over again, every five minutes as the story was told.
I can remember the first time I was old enough to go to a service. It was cold, wet, drizzly and in the forties as we walked the blocks to church, meeting my Aunt outside on the granite steps. I remember the church; it seemed like a grand cathedral at the time, all black, white, and pink marble and row upon row of pews, narrow stained glass windows, flowers and gilding everywhere. It was filled with people, standing room only, as well as the scent of candle wax and the pungent aroma of incense. In the back, on a balcony in front of a great stained glass window, the choir sang. It was a much smaller church some thirty years later when we had my mother’s funeral there.
I was young when my father died two days after Christmas, young enough that the small parish church still struck a young boy as a grand cathedral. After that Christmas was always a season of mixed emotions, joyous yes, but there was always something dark lurking in the background. I can recall my first Christmas as young man spent away from home. Spent with a young girl who cooked the turkey upside down so it collapsed upon itself, tasted just the same I assured her, comforting her. There was a period of time I traveled home for Christmas, driving hundreds of miles through all kinds of weather.
Later, older and married, I moved away… it was actually over Christmas that we moved. Stopping off to visit family for Christmas on the way, we celebrated with our two small boys in a hotel room, with a poinsettia and foot tall tree from Wal-Mart. Then it was Christmas at our home, our tree, and our guests. We had become our parents, buying, wrapping, and hiding presents. Sneaking them out after when the kids were asleep. As the children slept we celebrated Christmas ourselves, exchanging gifts next to the tree, a fire crackling on the hearth, maybe a glass of wine or two… things we never dreamed of as children at Christmas.