(Note for the reader: I first wrote this musing during the Christmas 2007 season. For those of you who didn’t read it the first time around – enjoy. .For those who read it when I first published it, I hope you will enjoy reading it again. John)
It is obvious to me that Christmas does not respect speed limits. It seems like only yesterday that I was looking forward to the 4th of July fireworks display, and no sooner did the last one burst in a glory of color and sounds, Christmas was here again. I know somewhere along the highway of time I passed Halloween and Thanksgiving, but they were a mere blur. I have learned that the speed with which Christmas comes roaring down that highway is directly related to my age. The older I get, the more years I put on this body, the faster Christmas comes and goes.
Thus, like yesterday’s good meal, I spend more time looking back over Christmases past than having time to enjoy each new one. As for those Christmases past, I can recall a few of the toys I received as a child that were so special to me then. A sled, a flashing/beeping signal station – in those days iPods and computers were so far over the horizon that no one had any inkling of what was yet to come.
But what is most interesting is that for the most part, those Christmas gifts are long forgotten, and what remains are memories. My memories are of a freshly cut, but seemingly always crooked, tree that my dad had to carefully erect. For us, it was all blue lights glowing around the tree – blue lights of peace and serenity. Around the base of the tree was my electric train which I received for my first Christmas. There was Christmas music on the radio fostering that sense of Christmas. Most importantly, now as I look back, there were my parents. There hardly is a memory of Christmas past that doesn’t include them. And although I wasn’t conscious of it, and thus unable to articulate it, for those twelve days of Christmas – just as throughout the remainder of the year, there was the gift of love.
I didn’t realize it then, but what I was really getting for each Christmas was the best of all gifts – memories; memories of family and friends, of good times and warm feelings. There still are memories of laughter shared with family and friends, and a privately shed tear of joy. The highlight of Christmas was not buying some great item in a store sale at half price, but in collecting the remembrances of a gentler time – a time of sharing, loving and caring.
Most of the family and friends I shared those Christmases with as a child are long gone. But the gift they gave me of being there during those Christmas seasons have stayed with me, and will stay with me for all the days of my life. I pray that those of you on the senior side of the street have similar memories. And for those younger, take this simple advice. Absorb every moment, revel in every minute, for what you are getting is the best Christmas gift of all, a gift that never wears out, never goes out of style and keeps on giving happiness – memories.