The year 2020 has taken its toll, but we Quills remain hopeful—and grateful. This month we decided to share whatever was on our minds and hearts about the holidays and so . . . here goes!
I'm anxious to know what Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, is thinking. Robin? Take it away!
(Along the way, I will share some photos that mean something to me during the holidays.)
(Every Christmas at my house, after the gifts are all done, I open a Charles Wysocki 1000 piece puzzle. it's usually about 10:00 pm. I get it started and then I finish it, usually between 3:00 and 4:00 pm or so the next afternoon.)
It's time for another (short!) article with my friendly neighborhood Quills. The subject? Christmas. Wonderful, right? Five minutes into it and I found myself in an unusually grumpy, Grinch-like mood. Half an hour later, still stewing, I thought about backing out. Reluctantly, I sat down to apply myself to a little "free-writing." One of the wonderful things about free-writing is how it sparks ideas and memories…
Thank you so much, Robin. May you have the very merriest and blessed holiday!
(Last Christmas, our son was deployed overseas. We were able to connect with him by phone, but the hours were all wrong for doing our gift opening with him. In any case, while he was away for the year, his beautiful bride came to stay with us. She brought along with her, their Golden Retriever, Jake, and Eric, the cat. It seems Eric rather enjoyed sitting under the tree.)
P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse, what have you for us?
So what about the Christmas holidays capture us in a way the rest of the year misses? We laugh and joke about it, but for me a part of it is the repetitive, kitschy music. Aunty Maude’s fruitcake. (Blech). The cold. Christmas shopping. *groan* B-level holiday movies. (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”)
Of course it’s also “family,” and “Jesus,” but what in the world have we been doing if we push those two into a storage box in the attic only to brush them off one day a year. Talk about absentee parenting and cold religion. Hopefully family and faith are daily encounters, not once-a-year reminders.
Merry Christmas to you and to yours, Parker!
And now, here are some of my reflections on the Christmas holiday.
Christmas always brings clearly to mind, how very different life is today than it was when I was a child. Certainly, we had what we needed. But as to extras—even the smallest of treats—they were few and very far between indeed, and that was true at any time of year. (Perhaps this explains why I have a vivid memory of a time I was given a simple Tootsie Roll Pop sucker. The event stands out in my memory as something most extraordinary.)
I remember that each Christmas, the local theater put on a free movie for all the kids to see. It was never anything you’d expect, like a Disney film, for example. But the novelty of seeing a movie at all was the thing of which memories were made. (I only recall having seen the following movies in theater in all my childhood years: Bambi; Yours, Mine and Ours (when I was invited for a friend’s birthday); and The Sound of Music (when a teacher of mine invited a few students to join her).) After the Christmas movie, we kids would crowd around to get to the Santa, who had for each child, one of those little stockings of netting that had hard candy treats in it. That entire day was like magic to all of us kids.
(There is one thing I need not worry about this Christmas, or really any Christmas, and that is, that it will be a white one. Here's a shot from out a back door.)
Each Christmas one of our neighbors sent a box of treats over. All I remember were the small chocolates, wrapped separately. Considering there were ten (yes, TEN!) in our household, there were few treats per person, indeed. As to Christmas presents, we girls each typically received a single item from my parents. Truth be told, I only remember one of us ever receiving something that was actually on her Christmas list. (You know the list I’m talking about. It was the one, pages long, that listed pretty much everything in the Sears Christmas catalog.) Still, the homemade pajamas we received were excitement enough.
Notwithstanding the scarcity of treats and gifts back in the day, I have extremely fond memories of Christmas. Perhaps it was the lack overall that made each treat that much sweeter, each gift that much more appreciated. Consequently, the things that stand out are my memories of visiting grandparents after a drive there to see houses lit up with Christmas lights, time with our cousins, meals with rice pudding and lefse (neither of which I actually eat!), and of gift opening—after dinner and all the clean-up was done. It was exciting, but never so much that we lost the true magic of Christmas, or that we lost sight of its meaning as a season to reflect on God’s gift to us, to give unto others (and not necessarily to receive), and to gather with family and loved ones.
With the world out of sorts in 2020, I’m unsure what this Christmas will bring for my family. Currently, the plan is that our daughter will be home from Pittsburgh to see the rest of us here. I hope everyone stays well and healthy in the meantime so that we can do that. Time will tell. In the meantime, I pray that you all stay safe, and healthy, and happy—and good (so that Santa can come visit you, of course!).
Merry Christmas, all! Happy Holidays!