Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Memory Album

I know I've written about Christmas memories all month. Here is another compilation of them-some repeats-but I wanted to share them in this fresh way:

Christmas Memory Album

I imagine my fondest Christmas memories preserved in a family photo album. My mind recollects events and people who made each Christmas holiday an event to be cherished. As I leaf through this memory album, pages of special events appear before my eyes.

On the first page of my memory book, Grandma Mary makes chilled boiled custard served in punch cups with mounds of real whipped cream. She rolls the iced cakes in a choice of crushed peanuts or coconut to make the traditional blarney stones. Her gaudy Christmas tree light bulbs sag from mere size on the dried out pine tree. I can see her tree in my mind's eye, and it triggers another memory: Grandma Mary hoisting the decorated tree over the hillside, because she was mad at Papa Pete. They argued over gift giving, and she showed him! After emotions cooled down, the tree was retrieved and propped up in the living room with more than a few pine needles missing.

On the second page I see my cousin, Keith, painting a Christmas scene on the picture window of their Missouri home, atop the sky lift hill. The window features the nativity scene, inspiring spectators to celebrate the blessed birth amidst the hectic pace of their busy schedule. On Christmas Day, the Kent home buzzes with excitement as cousins gather to catch up on important things like discussing their favorite schoolgirl crushes.

Turning the next page of the memory album, I see Mom working alongside our neighbor Elaine, cooking candies and nut breads. They dust off the gently used recipe cards with instructions for their annual specialties. Peanut brittle spreads across buttered wax paper, and the aroma of molasses oatmeal bread fills the kitchen. Mom and Elaine box up most of the treats for Christmas gifts, but samples remain to fill our tummies.

Next in the album, I see a group of carolers bundled up in sweatered layers, singing to shut-ins. As a youngster, I sang with my Girl Scout Troup, and later on, with friends. We sang for nursing homes and hospitals. And just for kicks, we sang in our neighborhoods as well. It wasn't Christmas without caroling!

On an adjacent page in the memory album I see another musical memory. Dressed in festive attire, my classmates and I sing Christmas choral arrangements for our school Christmas concert. Back when it could still be called a Christmas concert. Our school band performed several holiday tunes, and hearts were prepared for the holiday.

“Christmas Plays,” reads the headline of the next page. One photo shows me dressed as a princess, hand clasped in the hand of my prince. For our Christmas program at church, I memorized a Bible verse from the gospel of Luke. I trembled, as I proudly quoted God's Word to the packed sanctuary. Mom mouthed the words with me from her seat. I didn't notice, but she trembled too.

Some of the favorite pages in my memory album feature our family sitting around the cut pine tree in our living room. With pride, we selected just the right tree each year. The fragrant scent of pine filled the air. Mom always read Twas the Night Before Christmas. My brother's chest puffed with importance, as he distributed each of the gifts. To top off the day, I sat on my daddy's lap, embracing my favorite toy or doll.

The memory album grows each year. There is always room in my heart for new Christmas adventures. But the fondest memories in the book will always be those from my childhood. The best gift of all was not a doll or toy, but being part of a family who loved me. They gave me the sense of belonging as a child, and as an adult, this sense of belonging is broader, encompassing the entire Family of God.

1 comment:

wade said...

I didn’t remember the reason for the Christmas tree being over the side of the hill, I just recall the image of the still-decorated tree down there. That story’s really funny! I think you knew a lot more about what was going on around us than I, being one year my senior.

Caroling was the best! I can remember one year I went with three different groups. I think I enjoyed it because it was a present that didn’t cost a penny, but both the person giving and receiving it really liked it. I’ve taken some of my classes caroling, albeit in the daytime and only to other classrooms and the office. I would like to take them to a hospital or senior citizen home one of these years.