I love this time of year. There's always something to look forward to. From checking the mailbox to see the spit-shined images of our friends and family in the form of Christmas cards to hearing the familiar strains of a favorite carol sung in harmony...some of my favorite memories involve Christmas and the weeks leading up to this holiday.
But, along with the good come the more bittersweet moments. As I sat in church this morning, we had a time of prayer with a beautiful version of Amazing Grace played in the background. I could not contain my emotion. Tears welled up in my eyes and poured down each cheek as I thought about my Mom and how much she loved both that song and Christmas in general. It evoked in me that longing for her, for my childhood...for the sound of the Beach Boys Christmas album blaring and the smell of cherry walnut bars ready to come out of the oven. It's that silly little angel that would spin by the heat of the candle flame and the chubby little ceramic Santa that was always perched on an end table next to a sprig of holly. It's the wrapping of gifts with her showing me just how much to snip off the end before I taped it down and it's the familiar bulge of the orange in the toe of my stocking. These are things I remember. These are the things I miss this time of year.
Perhaps that is why I now try to create those same sort of smells and sounds and traditions with my own boys...so that one day they, too, might have specific memories of this holiday. But right now I am feeling more selfish than that. I am wanting to be the kid. I want my Mom to walk out of that kitchen and tell me she has a big pot of vegetable soup and cornbread ready for our viewing of The Christmas Story or It's a Wonderful Life. I want all the pieces of the gingerbread house (or my holiday season) to be lovingly laid out for me with a bowl full of frosting and all the perfect candies for decoration organized into neat little containers.
But it's not that easy. I am the grown-up. It's my turn to make the soup and buy the presents and create the sights and sounds of this holiday for my little ones. And instead of just missing her and wanting to curl up in the fetal position, I will channel her energy and her spirit and love of all things Christmas and create memories of my own. It's time to decorate my own gingerbread house. As imperfect as it may be with its leaning walls and sticky peppermint wreath on the door...it is still my own.
Now where did I put that recipe for cherry walnut bars..........