Traditions and Blessings
In reading over the past few entries in this blog, it seems there’s a theme. Guess it comes with the time of year. That said, I’ll throw in my two cents. First of all, I’m being particularly intent upon counting my blessings this year. I’ve had three very dear friends diagnosed with cancer, and man, it really opened my eyes to how I simply accept my good fortune. Not this year. I’m thankful for my family’s good health, for the love of my husband, for the happiness of my children, for being able to live my dream by sharing the stories in my books with others. The list goes on and on, but I won’t bore you with the detail. Just take a moment in this hectic season and be thankful, you never know what life will send your way next.
Whew! Now on to the lighter fare – those traditions. Actually, ours today are pretty standard; a dollar in every Salvation Army bucket we pass, cranberry salad, monkey bread, dinner with Gram. We usually have scratch off lottery tickets on Christmas Eve … never know when the big one will hit!
But there are stories from my childhood that come out year after year that still make us laugh. My younger sister (between the ages of about 3 and 7) used to do a “little Christmas play” and invite various aunts and uncles. The stage was our living room in front of the Christmas tree (a live one with those huge old lights on it that miraculously never burned the house down). The set consisted of several stuffed animals and a doll crib. The cast was small: our Boston terrier (who she’d cast as a character she called “Baa-Baa Black Sheep”) and my sister with a towel on her head with a headband around it (I’m guessing she was Mary, but from the acting, I really couldn’t be sure – she spent most of her time yelling at the dog to stay put.)
Then there was the Christmas that my mom decided we’d foray into a few of the holiday crafts she’d seen in a magazine. (Please note here, my mom was NOT Martha Stewart.) We made candles out of paraffin poured over crushed ice in half-gallon milk cartons. Those turned out pretty cool. The ice melted and cooled the paraffin at the same time, leaving a lacy webwork of wax. Probably one of our better crafts – well, to be perfectly honest, our only craft that didn’t draw guffaws from bystanders.
Then we began the papier-mâché projects. Birds. Really, the photo in the magazine looked fabulous. All of the birds were painted and hung on strings. Ours looked like something out of a horror film, frightening in their garish colors and misshapen bodies – really there wasn’t anything birdlike about them (we figured that out when we had to explain what they were to everyone who ventured into the room). Still, we hung them proudly (since I was just a kid, I suppose Mom figured it might damage my self-esteem if they went directly into the trash where they belonged). Our second papier-mâché project didn’t look any better – and those were just supposed to be round ornaments hung on a white painted branch we picked up from the yard. This masterpiece was hung on the huge mirror over the fireplace, because it simply wasn’t hideous enough … we had to have it doubled by reflection. Seriously, how can a person mess up making a bunch of balls? At least we delivered a lovely holiday chuckle to all who visited our home. Of course, in the warm afterglow of reminiscence, I recall them as if they looked the like ones in the magazine … and then I see the photographs.
I guess it just goes to show, sometimes the best memories come from the biggest disasters. Be thankful for each and every one.
Enjoy your holiday memories!
On Blue Falls Pond, available now
A Kiss in Winter, January 2007