By Wayne William Cipriano
Isn’t it interesting, the things we remember and the things we forget about a holiday season gone by?
We shopped early when the Christmas Spirit filled everyone we met. We heard “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” everywhere. Long before the screaming, hair-pulling battles over the discount tables were fought and the last remaining must-have fad was torn apart, we strolled through aisles stacked high with items perfect for anyone on our Christmas lists.
In Ava, we met very mature and responsible individuals attired in the fashions of the season. Santa hats abounded, an elf-like creature dressed in a battery-powered lighted vest, jewelry that glowed, then blinked out, then glowed again, and many “just plain” holiday vests carrying beautiful pins and intricate designs representing many, many past Christmases.
Drivers braked for pedestrians, even potential pedestrians not yet committed to the crosswalk, and allowed other drivers trying to enter the traffic flow from parking lots to do so. A far cry from the horn-blowing, finger-signaling, contorted facial expressions that ruled the roadways as Christmas became imminent.
It was when the radio station’s all-Christmas-carols-all-the-time policy was fresh and welcome. Long before that relentlessly repetitious twenty-five song rotation of holiday music began to remind you of the accusations of acoustic torture leveled at jailers of political prisoners.
Wreaths meticulously constructed and carefully distributed around the outside of our home and just as meticulously and carefully nibbled by inquisitive cattle entranced, as we all are, by Rosalie’s insistence upon using real vegetation and not plastic compromises for the “natural” wreath appearance.
The beauty envisioned and the fun expected when Christmas trees are unboxed again this year and the lights and decorations are unpacked and rediscovered anew. Long before the missing branches are never found, the lights, twisted, knotted, and burned out, are tugged apart with increasing fury. The ancient treasured glass globe (a present from Aunt Tilly and searched out by her on our tree immediately upon her visit) crushed between the body and the descending footrest of Dad’s recliner.
And cookies! Tons of cookies, mountains of cookies, cooling on every flat surface, destined to individually imprisoned in miles of Saran wrap – so beautiful to the eye, so luscious to the nose, and then remembered to be pledged to OTHERS! And then, in what must be understood as truly justifiable larceny, hot, steaming, finger-burning cookies are “liberated for the people” prior to being counted so that the “evil eye” of suspicion cannot be reinforced by mathematical certainty.
Liquor flowed as fellowship enveloped all, warnings half-heartedly given and even less-heartedly received, until car keys were surrendered (or stolen) to preserve life and freedom.
And candles, providing romantic lighting, wishful scents and steady employment for our local fire department.
The bad part was… there was no snow.
The good part was… there was no snow.
And what about High Mass? The thick smoke of incense. The parade of clergy and acolytes. The crush of so many, so very warmly dressed, so difficult to remember when to stand, when to kneel, when to sit. The choir’s high notes bringing smiles to all our faces though the Latin was far beyond us. The long ride to church. The much, much longer ride home.
And the RULE: Everyone in bed, asleep or Santa will not come. Without a doubt, whatsoever, the longest night of the year regardless of your age.
Then, presents, piles and piles of presents, each slowly unwrapped in the child-like expectation and prayerful hope that the age-old question, “what did you get, toys or clothes?” will be answered in the former. And, what is this? Not one cigar for Dad under the tree?
The trick is to experience Christmas far away from home and well before December 25. To immerse oneself in the true Holiday Spirit that precedes the realization that Christmas is very, very near and you have not completed your Christmas duties – nor has anyone else.
What about this………
Christmas festivities starting just after Halloween and culminating the day after Thanksgiving! When we are all stuffed, happy and bathed in the emotions so well described in every Christmas card received the day before Christmas, from those whose Christmas card we forgot to mail.
The things you remember. The things you forget. It is a truly Magical Time of the Year! And only a mere eleven short months away!