The snow falls gently on the firs along the Coast of Maine. Through the picture window of our West Southport, Maine house, I see the snowflakes dance and glide through the chill of the evening air. As the snow falls down, they form strings of garland and tinsel that are being strung by the angels above.
The steady curtain of the snow blows through the air and falls on the evergreen firs and to the ground. Covering up the bare ground and leaving behind a fresh coating of snow, gentle to the touch , damp and cool to the fingertips.
The winds whip the snow around the trees as the snow cascades gently off its branches. Hearing a gradual whoosh of the snow falling back to the earth below.
I see the lights strung delicately on the trees set against the backdrop of the darkened ocean. For several winters, my father hung the lights on the evergreen firs which faced the ocean Looking at them through our front picture window, I could see the glistening echo of the faint and steady red and white lights reflecting back at us.
Yet, another memory of the Christmas holiday that I remember is sitting around the warmth of the fire coming from the black wood burning stove and seeing the orange and yellow flames dancing from behind the metal glass doors, As I placed my hands above the stove, I felt its warmth and smelled the aroma of the slowly burning wood placed there by my father and heard the gentle hissing from the steam released from the gentle lapping of the flames.
When I grew up in our family, I believed in anticipation of gifts and enjoyed gathering gifts for my parents and my brother's family as well. Yet, when i contrast my actions to the oral tradition passed down through lessons from church, I see a different picture.
For the magi bore the gifts of frankensence, myrhh and gold. For each magi brought one gift with him on his journey. Back then, there were no malls or e-bay to place one's orders. Gifts were mined from the earth and had an intrinsic value. And an effort was made to gather the gift as well.
I remember one holiday when I packed so many packages that I gathered for the journey that I absorbed myself into the pursuit finding just the right gift for a hobby for each of my family. For my dad, I gave him a golf humor book since he loved to watch and play golf. And for my mom, I got a bird book with bright colorful pages of North American birds, many of which we saw at our bird feeders throughout the years. And for my brother, I gave him an astronomy book since he used to sit out front viewing stars from his telescope when he was younger. And I gave the assortment of holiday cards and calendars put out by the Kennedy Center. And for Erica, my sister-in-law, I gave some horticultural books since she was involved as a master gardener at the University of Minnesota.
Another time that we spent together was when Erica was bearing good news with the pending arrival of my niece and my parent's first grandchild. As we walked through the mall in Minnesota and walked by the windows of the Restoration Hardware with its green and white trim. Seeing children and their parents traipsing around with grins on their faces. We passed by several stores and stopped in to wander through their elaborate holiday displays and listened to the christmas music playing overhead.
Several Christmases later when we gathered in their living room, we saw a video of Abby on that Christmas morning playing with her first tea set , pouring imaginary cups of hot tea to drink with her fuzzy bear and purple moose which she sat in their small tan wooden chairs at the table. Abby wore her red pajamas and enthusiastically spoke to them and jumped up and down as she poured them their tea.
She leaned against one of the chairs as she became absorbed in making up stories for her stuffed animals as she gently put the cups against the animal's mouths. And her mom warned Abby, "be careful dear child not to lean too far back to hurt yourself."
In less than two weeks, I look forward to being greeted at the door by my niece, Abby and her mom and my parents. Recapturing the wonder of childhood as we gather around the table once again and to share our Christmas memories. For the five of us to share in the joys of the holiday. Making a good effort to recapture a fragment of time somewhat lost and depositing back to our hearts and souls. To then draw upon memories in the future.
And to have time to heal some of the distance that has been created this past year and to reflect on a better year ahead.
Our holiday get together was precious. Abby devoured many of the books that she received and spent countless hours on the couch nestled with many of the books that were given to her by my mom and dad and myself.
She made up stories of some orphans that lived in the Piper shores hotel, unit j303. They consisted of the Small and Little families. As Abby began to conceive of the story , she drew out story board illustrations of what the family members looked like. They each had wings. Then the story began to take form and we heard many chapters of the lives of the characters.