During the quiet moments of yesterday, my mind played back childhood memories of Christmas. In particular, I thought of the holiday spend with my grandmothers when I was eight. I had three grandmothers during most of my childhood, as my birth parents divorced when I was quite little.
The first scenes of Christmas past to slip into my conscious mind were wrapped in favorite gifts from “Grammie.” Grammie loved to shop and she had a wonderful knack for gifting the perfect presents, even though she hardly knew me. The one Christmas I can remember spending at Grammie’s house, when I was eight-years-old, she made me a ruffled skirt of shiny green-and-white plaid, bought me the Sugar Plum Fairy Effenabee doll, and a pale pink satin nightgown with a matching robe. I could not have been more delighted with the contents of her beautifully wrapped gifts nestled under Grammie’s tree and labeled for me.
I never saw Grammie again on Christmas, but for several years she sent her perfect gifts perfectly wrapped inside an oversized box addressed to me and my sister. Inside the brown packing container, a handmade wreath adorned with ornaments welcomed us to the holiday’s delights. Tiny rocking horses, french horns, and silver bells hung from the evergreen boughs until they were untangled and nestled into boxes of ornaments to be hung in later years on our own trees.
I don’t remember the gifts of my other grandmother gave me that Christmas. Instead, I remember sitting in her green velvet chair in the living room admiring her crystal bowl of ribbon candy almost-too-pretty-to-eat. Yet, it’s enough. A simple memory that contains more feeling than images, but evokes the joy of the holiday in my child self.
These brief, simple memories are from a cherished, yet troubled Christmas now long past. I have many more, filled with vivid scenes of laughter, food, and gifts shared with my stepfamily. Yet not one stands out for me in particular. I think perhaps it’s easier to take for granted what we become used to, even if it only occurs once a year.
I wonder what my own children will choose to cherish from past holidays as they grow older. No doubt they will be different, shaped by their individual perspectives of joy and love.