Christmas past lives on in the present

Christmas is here again. A blend of old memories from Christmases past and new ones being made.

It took a long time for me to feel at peace with the Christmas celebration changes of the last few years as our lives changed. Suddenly, the steady Christmases of my childhood and youth were gone. My parents sold the Upstate New York country home I grew up in and moved south.  I no longer could “go home” for Christmas and see all my childhood friends. I got married and moved away. We had a child.  New people were in my life now. And things kept changing. Christmas left me with an uncomfortable feeling then, one of constant change and uncertainty. It made me sad. I wanted to skip over it.

The old Westerlo, NY Homestead

For a long time the loss of my childhood Christmases hung heavy on me. My mother once said she didn’t have Christmases growing up during the Depression. I do believe she made up for that later in life by lovingly decorating and entertaining with grace and warmth. And I had always envisioned bringing my husband and son “home” to that warmth for Christmas. But that would never be. Especially since my mother died.

But then I discovered this past year, as my son turns 9, that I finally accept the change because it won’t go away. Change goes on and on. And as I embrace my memories now, I realize no one can take them away. Now is the time to look forward and enjoy creating those special Christmas memories for my son. He is the next generation and I am the past. What he remembers now will be part of him forever. Just as I remember.

I’m taking my son to Upstate New York the week after Christmas to visit friends. On our way home we’ll wind up the Helderberg Mountains to drive by my old homestead. I know from a recent visit the once showcase home now stands worn, overgrown, and abandoned-looking by homeowners without a care.

But that’s not what I see.

I see glittery, snow covered fields as I climb the last hill home. Lights burn soft, falling on snow from the farmhouse windows. Smoke curls from the chimney as I pull into the stone driveway and park in the barn. I pass holly and bows strung on the lamp posts welcoming me home. And as I knock the snow from my boots upon entering, the smell of mincemeat pie, rib roast, and Yorkshire pudding float around my head in a delicious wreath.  I see my mother in an apron ready with a big hug, a glass of wine, and a loud “Hello!” I see the tree with decorations of decades twinkle a soft sentimental greeting. The fire pops while candles flicker a peaceful glow.

And there out the bay window over the pond, I see the North Star rise in greeting over the hills spread out before us. The hills I once sled down on Christmas Eves gone by. I can still breath in the crisp stillness that lay over the fields under the moon in a humble sleep. I watch the flip of a beaver tail as he swims under the frozen-over creek on the way to his dam. I see fireplaces blazing at each end of the house and a table filled high with food as laughs and hugs abound. I see folks gather round the center hall piano to sing lively tunes with eggnog in hand.

I see it all.

And always remember those so-trendy Christmas outfits!

Memories of Christmases past live on in me. Christmas is now about creating memories for my son. My memories will always shine inside me. And now my son’s memories will live on through me.

What sort of Christmas memories live on in you?


Filed under Inspirational, Seasonal

8 responses to “Christmas past lives on in the present

  1. What a beautiful post, Donna. For me, Christmas means family. Until I was 21, Christmas was celebrated at my grandparents house. Santa even came early to my house so my parents and I could make the trip to Indy ever year. After breakfast, we all piled in (the family grew to around 40) and unwrapped, one at a time, youngest first.

    Then, when grandpa died in ’98, all that ceased. Those first few Christmases were tough for me because I felt a little lost. We still celebrated in Indianapolis, but it wasn’t the same. So I do understand the struggle to find new traditions.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Stacy, thank you for sharing your memories too! I loved hearing your story. Yes, its sad when those traditions suddenly end as it did with your grandpa — but what wonderful tales you have to tell your daughter! And I hope you grow your special memories with her.

  2. Stephanie Cunningham Ortiz

    What beautiful memories you have and I know that you will not be scant in the ones you choose to pass to your son! I always have a hard time at Christmas, too, but mostly because I feel too much of the hussle–there doesn’t seem to be time left for those loving memories, and even if there was, I can’t imagine them being as spectacular as yours…Mom’s idea of baking cookies was the cut and bakes, although even they smell good when you cook em!! And this year we’ll be apart and she is insisting that I make a turkey the way she always does. To make the house smell good. Maybe if there was a cut and bake version? Hmmm! Your memories are much better…Merry!! Merry!!

    • Steph, yes its hard to get away from the hustle…I am slowly downsizing on Christmas with get togethers and what not…as its adds to the work and hustle. You have a wonderful opportunity this year to do your own thing, which can be hard and exhilirating…I wonder what new tradition you will create? You are a special lady, so am sure you will create something special that’s all your own! A cut and bake turkey? that would be nifty! How about cut and pour gravy too! I wanted to do a turkey but my Dad, traveling in from NC, insists on his standing rib roast – like my mom made 😉

  3. Actually I still remember the Christmases of my youth in Vermont, the snow, the warm home, the over-decorated tree, piles of presents, eggnog, classic Christmas specials and even caroling. Those memories have been gone for over 20years now. Traditions long since lost but as I grow accustomed to my new life, my new wife and I have found ourselves creating our own traditions. The memories will always be there but it’s not who I am anymore. “Cheers to memories Donna!” – *Raises coffee.*

    • Thanks for sharing….and Vermont…my favorite place! How nice to know you’re from there! We honeymooned there – did the entire state from kayaking the Battenkill to cruising Lake Champlain. And you said it so lovely, old memories are there but slowly replaced with new ones that are just as special in different ways..from the Christmases of childhood to those of adulthood.

  4. Mince pies, rib roast, and Yorkshire pudding. What a treat. And what a beautiful house.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s