The snow came down softly, a few tentative flakes at first, and then the air was full of floating, swirling snowflakes. It reminded me of Mom’s old saying, “Old Mother Goose is shaking her feather bed.” It reminded me of Christmas long ago when Mom and Daddy were here, and all of us young’ens were home.
I have never had any desire to live my life over (as I’ve heard some folks say) but my mind drifted back –way back—through the years. If I could live a segment of my life over, I think I would choose Christmas time when I was a little girl.
Oh, how I would like to go once again with Daddy and Larry to cut a Christmas tree. Buying a tree was unheard of, and we’d never seen an artificial tree. We had nine-foot ceilings in the old house, and Daddy always wanted one that went all the way to the top. I can’t remember ever having any evergreen except hemlock, which he favored because of the piney fragrance.
Once more, I’d like to wade through the snow in my snap-up galoshes, cross the creek, and climb the berry field hill. I can feel again the cold pockets of deep snow under the sumacs that a misstep would plunge you in knee-deep. Once the tree was chosen and cut down Daddy would load it on the old wooden sled and pull it home.
We helped trim the tree, but Daddy did the most of it as he had to use a step ladder to reach the upper branches. He was picky too, and we had to hang each strand of tinsel separately. One year Mom and I was in the junk room wrapping presents (yes, we had a junk room) while Daddy was trimming the tree. We heard a terrible crash, and ran in the front room to find Daddy on his back in the floor. He had fallen out of the Christmas tree.
I’d like once more to hear the smells and sounds of Christmas when I was a youngster. The fragrance of candle wax, evergreens and oranges will always spell Christmas to me.
I would hear the whispers of the kids as they tried to hide the gifts they had bought at Opal’s General Store (brilliantine for Mom, and Bay Rum shaving lotion for Daddy.) There were lots of whispered secrets at this time.
It would be so good to see the Christmas program that the Hagar Grade School put on every year at the Methodist Church. I hear again the crunch of the snow as we walked to the church, and feel the heady excitement as we stood before the packed crowd. I can see the sheets pinned together and hung on a wire for the curtains. I’d like to hear Nadine say, “Oh, Ben” to Clyde Salyers once more.
If I could just smell again the mouth-watering aroma of the numerous pies and cakes that Mom baked, it would be heavenly. She would have rows of pies lined up on the shelves in the junk room, and two or three cakes (always a coconut-orange cake and a fruit cake made with applesauce and orange slice candy.)
We could hardly wait! The excitement grew until we could hardly contain ourselves. It was a mountain of work for Mom, but we never thought about that. I’d like to feel again that carefree, untroubled feeling of childhood.
What I would like to experience once more is the night before Christmas. Daddy would gather us all together (as he did every night) but this time he would read to us the true Christmas story. He would take baby Susie on his lap and we would drag our chairs as close to him as we could get.
How I would like to hear his voice again reading with deep emotion, “And so it was, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Sometimes Daddy would choke with emotion and stop to wipe away tears. He read with such feeling that we felt that we were right there in the stable with the precious tiny baby and his parents. We could see the shepherds and hear the angels sang as they proclaimed the birth of our Saviour.
There in that old Jenny Lind house, sitting around the open gas heater in our feed sack gowns, the foundation of our faith was laid. I’d love to see the little ones on their knees, their blonde heads bowed low, as Daddy prayed.
And then—at last it was bedtime, and we were too excited to go to sleep. There is nothing like that anticipation in waiting for Christmas morning. Just as we pretended to believe in fairies, we knew that Santa Claus was a fable also—at least we older ones did. But it was so much fun to pretend!
Our bed was in the front room at one time, and I remember lying in bed with Mary Ellen, watching the firelight gleam on the Christmas tree ornaments. I would love to feel that particular contentment again. We felt safe, protected and secure in our parent’s love.
Of course we can never go back again, only in our minds. As the years go by, the precious memories seem to grow brighter. And yet, watching the great-grandchildren as they absorb the Christmas story, we realize that we are still making memories.
I have received so many beautiful, heart-felt Christmas cards from my readers that I am filled with humble gratitude. I wish I could personally acknowledge each one and return the love shown, but of course it is impossible. Thank you, readers, for what you mean to me. You have encouraged and cheered me many times.
My wish for each of you is that God will bless and keep each of you in His loving arms. That was the purpose of the greatest gift to mankind; that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.
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