Monday, December 15, 2014

Once Upon A Time

Christmas Eve

For almost two weeks there would be no more getting up early and going out into the blustery cold, walking backwards to avoid the sting of the icy snow on our faces to our bus stop to wait on the bus.  School was out, but the  excitement of Christmas vacation had dulled and now new enthusiasm rested in knowing that Christmas Eve had finally come!  We had counted the months, the days, the hours.  Today, it was upon us.

I wanted a baby doll.  Every year I wanted a baby doll.  I had spent the past couple of months, ever since the Sears Wish Book arrived, carefully studying each doll.  I rated them considering how many outfits were included and if they had a bottle, the kind with the fake milk or juice that would magically disappear when the baby was fed.  

I could hardly wait for tomorrow to get here.  I yearned to hold that new baby and to smell her newness.

Three brothers and two sisters flitted through the little four room house, laughing and telling stories of Santa and Christmas's past.   The door of the pot belly stove clanged as Mom opened it and shoved the poker inside, stirring the coal, then shaking the ashes from the bottom.  "Don't forget to put your socks out," she said.  She did not have to remind us.  We were on it.

Christmas Morning

Sunrise.  Eagerness.  Our ritual chant of "We want up!"  Soon Mom was ready and gave us the okay.

The black and white living room that had been abandoned the night before was converted into a magical display of color and great lights of reds, blues, and greens bounced off the gray wall showing bright on the long needle pine tree that sat in the corner of the shabby little living room.  And oh, the smell of Christmas!  Silver tinsel hung heavy on the branches and long brilliant red lights bubbled, erupting, mesmerizing.  Our socks lay nearby, filled with sweet smells of oranges, candy and nuts.

I found my baby and I held her close.  Hearts were light and everyone was happy.

Christmas Night

I adjusted my earphones into my ears and slowly moved the dial on my transistor radio.  Some stations were coming in different languages and I just couldn't believe that I was sharing secrets of another place clear across the world.

I tried to sleep, but the enchantment of Christmas day was still thick in the air.  My other siblings, sleeping in the same room, had become silent and were falling off to sleep, but my older sister Rita and my older brother Jimmy were just off of our bedroom in the living room playing with their new tape recorder.  They would record something funny, listen to it and laugh hysterically, and then erase it and record something else.  Into the early hours of the morning they played, and laughed.  I giggled beneath my covers, thinking about how these two were so comical.  I was glad they were my brother and sister.  I admired them so!

December 16, 2014

Tomorrow my sister Rita will travel to Pennsylvania to spend yet another Christmas with my big brother Jim.  She will be there for as long as he needs her.  The laughter will be minimal though, and the feeling of utopia that was felt on that Christmas day almost fifty years ago will have faded and will be replaced by a gut-wrenching pain, a sadness, a yearning for younger more innocent times when cancer was not spoken of and our lives were infinity and beyond.  Life would go on forever, you see.  That was a given back in those days of old.  

Rita and Jimmy
Jimmy and Rita
Goofy me in the middle....  and an older Jimmy and Rita to the right

Here we are recently, just last year.  Rita is second one from left and Jimmy is far right holding his best friend, Koda.

Once upon a time, there was Christmas magic.  But then, the years swept away that magic and all that was left was truth.  But if I close my eyes and think real hard, memories and  magic return.  And I'm a little girl again.


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