Ghosts of Christmas Past: Memories for a Lifetime

I have written before of the importance Christmas has always had in our family over the years and how my parents, very deliberately, sought to create memories that would last a lifetime. Good years and bad, the images of those seasons past come racing out in my mind every day. The smell of a tree, the lyrics of a carol sung long ago, standing in a store line and seeing a young boy carrying roles of wrapping paper as tall as him; they all bring an unexplained smile to my face and a warm feeling inside me that is often thought lost with childhood. Any time, any day those feelings return and no matter the realities of the moment I am a child again and my parents are next to me.

So it was one evening this year as Dianne and I were watching one of those campy, overly cute feel good Christmas movies on Netflix that have become a ritual of the season. The scene was as forgettable as the plot but in that moment I found myself back in Christmas 1970. Back at Agincourt Public School’s Christmas Concert for the parents. That year our class was performing a play of Jesus and the Three Wise Men. As we prepared for the night I was devastated that I has lost out in the casting of those memorable leading roles and relegated to being one of the Heralds that introduced each scene. Yet my mother was able to convince me that those were the best parts as the Heralds began each and every scene. As I stood on the stage looking out over the several hundred parents assembled in the gym I could see my parents sitting right on the isle several rows back and everything felt grand.

Over the years mother told the story of that night too many times and each time it evolved slightly to the point the Heralds truly were the stars of the night. When I was younger my parents pride made me smile, as I became older I would wish it were forgotten that year. Now it is all gone, a night almost forgotten to all but a few of us for whom it is a fleeting memory of days long gone. I suspect many of those parents are long gone as are mine and indeed too many of my classmates as we pass through middle age. But for that passing moment this year that night came as alive as it could be and for that brief moment my parents were at the side of their 6 year old son and all was well.

On the passing chance anyone will read these words let me say to parents, you are creating the images that will form the timeline of your child’s life, craft them well. To children close your eyes, think hard and remember for some day in the far off future you will value them more than you can now imagine. Christmas will always be a season of magic and dreams, a special time of lights and song. Yet the real magic is that we carry in our hearts and minds that hold us close to those we love so much.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a very Happy 2014!

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