Do you have at least one special Christmas memory? Was it a gift you really wanted, or a memorable activity, or a visit by someone special? The year you got stuck in the snow on the way to visit relatives, the year you got a pair of skates or took a hayride, or received tickets to a rock concert?
I was thinking about my memorable moments today while I was elbow deep in Christmas baking. I was happy to observe that I had more than one.
Five years old: In my flowered flannel nightdress early Christmas morning, I hopped barefoot downstairs to find my mother crouched beside a Wedgewood-blue plastic dollhouse with white shutters (saltbox-style) sitting unwrapped under the tree. She looked up at me and grinned when she heard my sharp intake of breath. I ran down and immediately started arranging the little orange furniture pieces, individually-wrapped in clear plastic.
Nine years old: Two Shaun Cassidy albums…sigh…I was going to marry him. I have no idea why it didn’t happen. Later, when he starred in the Hardy Boys series on television, I switched my preference to Parker Stevenson. He was taller.
Eleven years old: The first time I ever saw It’s a Wonderful Life late one Christmas Eve. The story enthralled me, and I pondered it for days afterward—“Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry!” Powerful stuff.
Thirteen years old: My older brother came home from university to celebrate the holidays, and we posed for pictures in front of the tree. I was wearing a white knit pullover with purple stripes and dolman sleeves that I bought with my allowance money. And I smiled because, for the first time in memory, my brother seemed happy to sit and chat with me.
Eighteen years old: On Christmas break from my study at a technical school near Toronto. Didn’t I feel cosmopolitan, coming home to visit the country folk? Within a few short months I had doused my permed hair with henna, turning it a brilliant red, and got a very short 1980s mushroom cut (long in the front, short in the back). When I boarded the plane in Toronto there was no snow, just a mild, dull brown landscape. I wore a long black coat and black boots with a bow and skinny heels. But I nearly slipped and fell when I landed in Moncton, where it had been snowing heavily for quite some time. I slipped and slid everywhere I went that Christmas—but I had great-looking footwear.
Forty-three years old: Right now, right where I am. With my three fantastic, healthy kids who are growing up so brilliantly in front of me and my husband who, by example, teaches me about unconditional love and servanthood every day. I am thankful for one more Christmas with my parents and other family members. I’m thankful for the things I was able to accomplish this year—releasing a first book and experiencing my first play production. And I’m thankful for my health and really, really good friends.
And though things often go wrong and there’s not always enough money and there are plenty of things that need to change, none of it really matters compared to all the greatness in my life. And with that in mind, to you and yours, I wish you the very best of the holiday season, and a healthy and productive 2012.