what am I listening to..?
Oktober Project - "Wall of Silence"

for the Darchangels...

Pardon me, whilst I wax poetic this evening, as my memory has been stirred by the recent descriptions of Christmas celebrations by those Darchangels, Chris and Shana. Their rather descriptive narratives of all the sweets and such they’ve been enjoying have got me to reminiscing a bit of Christmas past…
Christmas in my childhood home was something that was wrought of great anticipation and excitement; as soon as the weather started turning cold, the albums of Christmas music came out and songs of hope and good will and fun and the solemnity of the season filled the air at any odd moment. My mother and father put their hearts into Christmas, as it were. Down from the storage area in the garage came the life size plywood figures of caroling snowmen, a full size sleigh, Santa and eight reindeer, with a ninth one to take up the lead, with the appropriate red nose. My father made them and they were positioned in the front yard; two large snowmen flanking the front flagstone walk; a second grouping of a snow "family", all done up with painted hats and scarves. The sleigh and reindeer would be positioned in front of the rock garden, with Santa waiving "greetings" next to the sleigh. The cutout reindeer all had harnesses and bells, all made by my father, and the sleigh was filled with plywood boxes, wrapped with foil paper, ribbons and bows... it was quite the sight. The tangled strings of lights were attacked – they were pulled and twisted ‘round till they were straightened out, then they bedecked the giant blue spruce tree in the front garden as well as around the front door. The magical giant candle sticks, hand made by my grandfather, were placed on either side of the front door and the treasured antique orange, flame shaped bulbs were screwed into the sockets and, when the cords were plugged in, all held their breath to see if they would, yet again, alight and cast their warm glow over the front steps… they always did…
All the windows in the house would be adorned with electric candelabras, their orange bulbs bathing the rooms with their special warm glow, adding not only light, but an air and sense of security to our humble home, heralding the holiday as they did. Then it was up into the attic to bring down the magical boxes, filled with treasured and loved Christmas decorations. They were the same decorations that festooned the rooms since any time I could remember, but they held the joy and memories of Christmas past in their simple way. The boxes always smelled dusty, the decorations always smelled dusty, but that is a smell I will carry beyond this life, it was one of happiness and anticipation. Out from those brown cardboard treasure chests came the crape paper bells and angels that hung from the ceiling, in between the boughs of silver, red and green foil garlands; the plastic reindeer that stood on the cardboard fireplace mantle, in which the artifical electric fire was always "burning". In the center of the parlor hung a ball of mistletoe, ah, Pagan mysteries renowned! Felt Santa Clauses on every shelf, pottery bells and candles everywhere, pinecones and birch logs, painted with silver and gold glitter, decorated with holly and ivy!
In the kitchen the special Christmas towels and potholders were hung and the Christmas dishes were brought down, washed and readied for the bounty of treats to come.
Everywhere you looked was red and green and glitter; it was, indeed, a Christmas wonderland in a child’s eyes.
And then came Christmas Eve. It is true, what Dylan Thomas wrote, “there are always Uncles at Christmas”, especially our Uncle Bill. It wasn’t Christmas Eve until Uncle Bill came over to have a glass of holiday libations, followed up with a session at the kitchen table with a pot of coffee. I remember sitting enraptured with his tales of stalking deer in the snow filled forests, or plans for summer fishing trips… ah, what a kind and gentle soul he was. Then it was time for bed. My sister and I would be ushered off; all knowing full well that sleep would not come easy. And it did not, but eventually we would succumb to the exhaustion of anticipation and off to the land of Nod we would go.
Then… Christmas morning! We would awake at crack of dawn and peer out through the frost painted windows to see if it had snowed; it always seemed to snow at Christmas, back then. And then we would quietly sneak out to the parlor and… there it was! Always a huge Christmas tree, hung with all those special decorations we loved, draped with garland and tinsel… what a sight! When we were little brats, Santa always brought the tree along with the presents. I really don’t know how our poor parents did it, decorating a tree, wrapping the seemingly endless bounty of gifts… they really, really made it something special. We would creep into their bedroom, wringing our hands, standing on our own feet, almost bursting with “please, please, get up!” They probably had only an hour or two of sleep at the most, I’m sure. But, up they would get, the coffee pot would be set to perking and then the frenzy of tearing, yelling and tears of joy would abound. It was really something wonderful, Christmas ‘morn. And when the torn wrapping paper was cleaned up and the toys and candy and such were being handled and adored, breakfast would come… usually French toast or pancakes and bacon, shoveled down in all haste, lest the piles of stuff in the parlor might vanish without our constant sentry…
Then, around noon, there would be a knock at the door and in would come Nana and Pop, arms laden with even more gifts, was there no end to it, or so it seemed!
Slowly, the day would go down to evening and then, Christmas Night, my own favorite part of the holiday. All energies were spent, the favorite gifts were in hand and it was time to sit and relax and revel in family. Out would come the special treats; chocolates with sweet crème centers, cookies, nuts and cakes and the ever-present coffee. My father would mix himself a drink, usually a whiskey and soda and sit in his pajamas on the sofa next to my mother, my sister and I curled up next to them or lying on the floor and we would watch our favorite Christmas movie, “A Christmas Carol”, starring the wonderful Alistair Sim. We knew all the lines by heart and would repeat them along with the actors and at the end we would all have a good cry. Oh, such a wonderful time it was.
And now, I am older, not necessarily wiser, but I always try to instill that sense of joy and wonder and mystery in our own celebrations. Sometimes, I succeed, sometimes not. But it’s not the success within, but that without, that matters to me, such that it is.
Thank you, Chris and Shana, for stirring that well of memories within me this Christmas. May you both truly Blessed Be.


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