Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas' past

I'm going to be honest. This Christmas just isn't doing it for me. Maybe it's the fact that this year has been full of changes, maybe it's the fact that we still haven't gotten our own place and therefore can't really do our own traditions, but I'm pretty sure it's because this is my first Christmas since losing my brother to Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

I had an entire post ready that explained how I'm feeling and how I just don't have much Christmas joy this year (which if you know me is actually reeeaaaallly strange) and how sometimes you just plaster a happy smile on your face and keep going, because it isn't all about you when you have a family. Sometimes it is and everyone deserves to have that moment where their feelings are all that matter. But, I digress, this isn't one of them and it was hard enough to write the first time. I'm a wimp and sharing those kinds of thoughts and feelings with the world scares me.

So...instead of focusing on this Christmas, I thought I would take you all down memory lane to a Christmas where everything was good and my family was whole. *Cue swirly lights and hypnotic music and cool smoke and stars*

The smell of wood burning floated on the air, which made me smile. That smell meant that it was Christmas. My Mimi, or Grandmother to those not cool enough to have a Mimi, lit the woodstove that sat in the dining room of her farm house every Christmas morning after we unwrapped our presents. I stood in the kitchen with her in my footie pajamas staring at the pile of baking ingredients on the counter that was still level with by eyes. I hadn't quite hit that growth spurt yet. Ask anyone...once I did I kept going. I'm rather tall now.

Mimi was teaching me to bake a pie. From scratch. No boxes, no frozen, and no cans. Just flour apples get it. I don't have the recipe next to me to list it all. If you want Mimi's recipe, let me know and I'll grab it for you. I had never been allowed to do anything on my own before. I remember being so proud of myself as I read the recipe and mixed everything together. She stood back and supervised, which had to be hard for her. I destroyed that kitchen. She of course dealt with the oven and by the time the pie went in, it was ugly as hell but it was mine. I of course was also covered in flour and pie bits. There is a picture somewhere. I wish I still had it.

As soon as I set the timer, I ran to the living room. I didn't care that I was a disaster. I wanted to play Mario with my brothers. They never let me play. I was the baby and they wanted to win. That day, they handed me a controller. And actually plugged it in. I sucked at Mario and ruined their score. They took my controller after twenty minutes.

That night after we ate dinner, we sliced into my apple pie. It didn't matter that some of the apples were a little crunchy because I didn't cut them into the same size before baking them. Or that the crust was a little too dark around the edges because I forgot I was supposed to listen for the timer and went out to make snow angels. Everyone at it and smiled. My Papa (that's Grandpa of course) smiled through every bite and was the only one to ask for seconds.

We went to bed that night happy and a little sad. We would have to leave the next morning to return home which was four states away. I don't know at what point I fell asleep, but I do remember being woken too soon. My daddy was beside the bed, waking me and my mother waking my brothers. When I looked out the window, it was still dark.

Our parents took us downstairs and bundled us up then took us outside where my grandparents were already standing. There, above the barn on our family farm in (very)upstate New York, were the northern lights. The swirl of blues and greens and pinks lit the small strip of sky in a kaleidoscope of color.

After a little while we all went back in, warmed up with some hot chocolate, then headed back to bed. We all slept a little later and that in turn made us get home a little later, but it was worth it.

I don't remember what presents we got that year. Not a single one. I do remember my family being whole and happy. I do remember feeling like Christmas was this special time of year. While I may not be feeling very Christmasy this year, I want my kids to have those same kind of memories. When I told my parents about this memory, they remembered it too. But not the same way. They remembered the bills and the fact that we ate more bean soup than anything that year and how they struggled financially. But they never let me see that. They made my Christmas special by pasting on a happy face and making Christmas magical. So in their own example, I will make my kidlettes' Christmas as special as I can. My daughter is seven this year...perhaps it's time for her to make a pie.

Oh and since I can't find the one of me at seven covered in flour... here's one of me with the Mall Santa who asked me to sit on his lap and called me gorgeous. about that raffle where I'm giving away BOTH installments of the Mackenzie Duncan series? The other lovely ladies of Indie Ignites have some amazing books in the line up too! FILL IT OUT!
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