As Christmas is coming on fast, I can’t help but think of not only Christmases past, but what exactly Christmas means. For me it’s a time of remembrance with a small side dish of sorrow that my family of the past has gone on. However, my family of the here-and-now also includes friends who are very dear to me. We are a family of sorts, kind of like the wonderful Hawaiian way of “*ohana.”
Life is change. Christmases change. People change. But love and kindness and joy and happiness go on forever. Our little holiday rituals stay with us, and we enjoy the time we have together. For example, I make my grandmother’s famous seafood chowder each Christmas; one pot for my brother-in-law and his wife (my best friend), one pot for our grandgirls and their parents up in Maine, and one for us. Doing this brings back the memories of Christmases past with my grandparents.
As old as I am, I can still feel the thrill of Christmas only a few days away. As a child, I would always stay overnight on Christmas Eve with my grandparents. My parents and I would have enjoyed my grandmother’s chowder and her homemade watermelon pickles, always followed by a fabulous dessert. After a few hours, my parents would kiss me goodnight and go back home.
I would have neglected to have brought a nightgown, so my grandmother would lend me one of her billowing pink flannel ones. After washing up, she would send me upstairs to the “pink room” (the walls and ceiling were a beautiful pale pink, as were the bed clothes and blankets. I loved it.) along with a glass of milk and a plate of her cookies. (Christmas Eve meant that I could forego brushing my teeth.)
At last, settled in the warm bed, munching cookies and reading a good book, I would feel like a princess tucked away in her tower. I always kept the window open a crack so that I could smell the cold air, and listen for Santa’s sleighbells. When I got good and sleepy, I would put up my book, and turn the light out. The cold smell of snow and pine trees were the very scent of Christmas.
I was warm and sleepy, full of cookies, my mind twirling about what Christmas morning would bring. As I drifted off to sleep, I swear that I could hear those magical bells ringing from far, far away. Santa was on his way, and I was on my way to sleep.
Christmas memories are a gift. Christmas Eve is still magical for me. I hope that it always will be. I hope that Christmas will be magical for us all.
*As was said so well in the delightful movie, Lilo and Stitch; “ohana means family; it means that no one gets left behind.”