The Most of Christmas Past
- Written by Patsy Oliver
With that first big holiday meal behind us – and I do mean behind, as that is where I carry mine – I’m thinking a lot about happy holidays past and looking forward to new memories. I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas already. My family could not all get together for Thanksgiving, but we will all gather for Christmas and New Year’s, and I am really looking forward to it. I was talking to my sister the other day, and we were reminiscing about some of our favorite Christmas memories. “Remember that time we went to see Granny in Arkansas and it was supposed to snow for Christmas?” I asked her. She did recall that, but not quite as well as I do, as she was only about 5 years old, and I was 8. The forecast for Texarkana, Ark., revealed a good probability for snow. We were so excited. We had never really seen snow, except in pictures. I know that we drove my parents crazy with our excitement. Dad took us, my two sisters and me, to a local store to buy some rubber boots so we could play in the snow. He said the snow would be wet, and we didn’t have the right shoes. Somewhere, there’s a picture of us in our pajamas and rubber boots ... I think we may have slept in them. Well, it didn’t snow that Christmas. We were very disappointed, of course. At the time, we could only focus on what we didn’t get for Christmas, that chance to make a snowman. Now, looking back, I realize that my disappointment then brings me happy memories now. Thinking about my dad taking us to get the boots, and his disappointment when we didn’t get to see snow. That’s just how he was, always patient and understanding. More than any “thing” I ever got for Christmas as a child, I remember the love and patience. When I asked my mother what one of her favorite Christmas memories was, she was quick with her response. It was after the war, when she and her siblings and mother had settled into an apartment in Berlin. There were two rooms in the apartment, and they were lucky to get them. The bathroom was down the hall and shared with numerous other tenants. “Vee each got some fruit and nuts, and a flannel nightgown for Christmas,” she said. “Vee decorated dee apartment vis branches from da Christmas trees .. vee couldn’t afford a whole tree. Mama let us keep da fire going all day,” she said. And there it was – the little things that stand out in retrospect. I’m certain that she had seen much better Christmases before the war and the death of her father. They were well off, and wanted for nothing. Yet this memory is her favorite. As the holidays approach and we prepare, shop, worry, make plans and stress ourselves out, let us all pray that we can make some memories for our loved ones to look back on and cherish. Not the material kind, but those that will outlast any store-bought gift.