Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Past

Someone sparked a wonderful discussion over on G-Plus, asking her circle to share their favorite Christmas memories. (Mine was watching my mother decorate the tree, but I have many favorites.) A few of us replying admitted to getting tearing during the chat.

I have some sadness during the holidays, and not just because I've lost some family and friends. It just feels like there was more of a holiday spirit all through the year.

Remember when we made more time to enjoy our family and friends more often? A lot of us can recall a time when we gathered at somebody's home more often than on holidays. For my family, it was my mother's house. At any time of day, someone was dropping in. During the week, it was after work. Maybe one of the many folks who called my mother "Mom" would have stopped off on their way home. They'd come in "just for a minute" and end up staying to help Mom with something - say, reach something off a high shelf - and then they'd end up helping her finish "picking" greens for dinner. Or she'd have them sit and have coffee with her and watch the news or catch up on their life news.

After work, I'd go in to see my mother and she'd have two people watching TV in the living room, someone bringing up the the laundry from downstairs, and someone stirring whatever was cooking on the stove. By dinnertime, we could have five to ten us us setting us TV trays and fighting over who was going to leave their plate to get rolls out of the oven. My mother would be watching over us, like the contented grand dame she was.

On weekends, with all us siblings (blood- or love-related), our kids, their friends, Mama's friends - whoever we had gathered into our clan - the driveway looked like Walmart's on Black Friday.

There was never a week that passed without some kind of "company" being around my mother's home. I didn't have five siblings and one living parent, I had love flowing from hundreds of people into my life.

Ironically, it was Christmas that gave me time with just blood family. Well, Christmas Eve. The night before Christmas was traditionally a family-only event. Still, if my mother had taken in someone for a while, they were included. And my mother took in people who needed to be taken in. If someone living far from their own family ran into my mother (with 2 military bases here, that happened a lot), they were going to be part of her family if that's what they needed.

This was one Christmas Eve with just some of the kids that year...

Mama is the little dark lady surrounded by just some of her babies." This us the year before she passed away.
Christmas Eve, the kids (little ones and grown ones!) got to open one present. Mama picked the present.  She had the mind of Sherlock when it came to her tree. If any of the kids touched a single ornament, gift or candy cane, she knew.

For me, whatever year this photo is from, it's when I got one of the pearl rings my mother always got me. Not because of the gift, but because of Mama, I haven't had a Christmas so happy since. I think I was about 36 or 37 at the time. It was a Christmas or two before Mama died.

Check out the tree behind me. Every ornament just so!

So, really, Christmas was almost like any other day in Mama's house. Throw in some gifts and a turkey dinner, any day could be Christmas.

I don't think that my family was unique as far as spending time together.

What's happened to us? What happened to making time for each other? Why does it take a designated day for us to put away our computers and briefcases and cellphones and actually relate to each other?

How does the saying go: "Tis the reason for the season"? So why does the season have to be the reason. Why does Christmas have to be the day for family and showing our love and gratitude for each other?