Memories of Christmas Past

Memories of Christmas Past

Christmas is my favorite time of year. From the beginning of November until New Year’s Day, I rarely change my radio dial from the Christmas music station and load up my DVR with Christmas movies. This seems a little extreme to most of my family and friends, but the holidays help feed my craving for more than just Grannie’s dressing and Mama’s red velvet cake. Inside my 30-year-old exterior lies a child at heart who longs to see everyone getting along, smiling and hugging, and putting aside petty differences, if only for a season.
            I am happy to say that I have experienced many good Christmases over the past three decades. Then, of course, there were those that were not so great. But the one memory I always think back to is the Christmas of 2005. It was the last Christmas my family had with my grandpa on earth, whom we affectionately called “Papa.” Anyone who knew Papa was a better person for having known him, which is a wonderful way to leave this world and a great ambition we should all challenge ourselves to meet.
            Little did we know that day that less than four months later he would pass over into his heavenly home. I have a large family, and over the years we have spread out across the map and across generations. Some like to go away on Christmas as well, but this year everyone happened to come. We all piled into my grandparent’s living room and ate our hearts out.
  

          We laughed and took pictures as Papa opened all of his gifts and joked about each one. Even at 79 years old and flirting with the first stages of Alzheimer’s, he had a great sense of humor. I remember marveling at how great, yet unusual, it was to have all my cousins there at one time. Now looking back I know that God orchestrated it all to give Papa one more big party before he left his earthly home.

            The next year most of us met back at Grannie’s, and after the gifts were opened we wrote notes to Papa. We sniffed back tears and wiped noses as we pinned our paper notes to the working boot Christmas stocking I had purchased in his honor, and then hung it on a flag stand by his tombstone. A few more times we met at Grannie’s and the crowds slowly got smaller. Then one year someone suggested we not meet at all, and it sort of fizzled out from there.
            I am now married with a son of my own and hope that God I can keep Christmas happy and innocent for him as long as I can. Each year I try and immerse myself in cheesy movies and upbeat songs to try and keep that childlike faith that Christmas really is (as it should be) Jesus, family and fun. It’s too bad that adults tend to view it as where we have to go, what food we have to bring, and for whom we have to buy gifts.
            If only Papa could have met my son before he died. I have great peace feeling that God lets him see little snippets of our life now, until we can join him in heaven. I also have peace knowing that I will forever have Christmas 2005 etched in my memory, and I vow to make Christmas that special for everyone around me while I am still on earth.
            

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