Monday, December 19, 2011

Nothing Like Memories to Send Sadness Packing

During the holidays, I can get as giddy as a 9-year-old. I listen to Christmas music 24/7 (just the oldies like Bing, Perry and Burl) and watch my lit Christmas tree in a darkened room, and bake cookies to deliver to friends, and obsess over wrapping paper and ribbon and tags. I even think about renting a child so I can show up at the Santa pancake breakfast at McDonald’s.

With a few pounds, I could be Mrs. Claus. In fact, I’ve thought about using to determine if I have relatives from the North Pole.

All kidding aside, the holidays also make me kind of sad. I have no immediate family in the area. My dad died when I was 18. My mom died eight years ago. My sister’s family is in Texas and they celebrate there to be close to the remaining grandparents. So, I’ve never *hosted* Christmas at my own home.

Still, I’ve decided to tell Sadness to take a vacation in Phoenix this Christmas. This year is about gratitude and remembrance.

As a writer, I value memories – mine and others’ – because they provide the rich details that make any story come to life.

Here are a couple of my fondest memories. Each year, Mom would give a special ornament to the three of us kids (and I still have mine on my tree to this day). Often, they’d be in the same *theme* but my brother would get the Santa, I’d get the angel and my sister would get the elf. The photo to the right is probably 38-40 years old!

Fruitcake was a big deal in our household. And not for giving! The kids would chop the neon-colored fruit and nuts while Mom would make the batter. We’d end up eating fruitcake for breakfast the whole season.

And now for a memory shared by my cousin Kathy. Her dad would hide money in their stockings and my cousins would have to figure out where the bills were hidden. No easy task! One year, he carefully opened a candy bar wrapper and inserted the money, then resealed the packaging. Another year, he went to the trouble of opening walnuts (!) , hiding the money inside, and then gluing the nut back together.

Would you please share one Christmas memory with me while I help Sadness pack its bags?