Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Memories: A Perfect Evening

I could see the car lights as the first guests began to arrive. Soon sister Sylvia and family were piling out of the car, bearing arms full of gifts and food. The house was suddenly filled with activity and little children. A little later, the next car arrived, carrying sister Vivian and her family. They, too, burst into the house with gifts and food, and more little children. It wasn't long before we were all sitting at the tables enjoying a delicious meal, all the children brimming with excitement over the activities to come; always impatient that the adults did not seem to be in any hurry. Children were then sent to the basement while everything was cleaned up. No dishwasher in those days - except human ones. I remember going through several dishtowels, as they would get too wet to dry any more dishes. Finally - everyone gathered around the Christmas tree. Picture, if you can, a tree in a rather small living room....presents spreading out far beyond the branches, with many children of all ages and sizes gathered around. I will forever remember seeing my dad sitting at the dining room table, cracking and eating nuts, and visiting with (I think) my brothers-in-law. He sat in the same spot every year where he could watch what was going on, but yet be removed enough to have a little space around him. Some gifts I remember getting during those years: Nancy Drew books, Trixie Beldon books, paint-by-number kits, always a sweater, games, puzzles, jacks, a wrist watch. Finally all the gifts were unwrapped, everyone was sharing, looking, basking in the glow. Then.... my sisters and mother would open the door to the front entry and bring out unending goodies to enjoy for the rest of the evening - fatimund, rosettes, cookies, bars, candies; all beautiful, all homemade, all delicious. At those moments I thought every home, every family, enjoyed Christmas eve the way we did. I was soon to find out that while we had joy, others had pain. And the pain was much closer than I could ever have imagined.

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