Bask in the warmth

‘Tis the season of remembering and though we get caught up in shopping and decorating and baking, the remembering is the best part for me.
I was digging through my box of decorations last week and I reached for four separate items that make Christmas for me–one from each daughter when they were children (though they always are children in my eyes, especially at this time of year).
Aimee and Samantha had the same teacher, five years apart, and they created a “stained glass” Christmas scene with markers and crayons. The works of art have exceeded the 20-year mark but still I tape them to my patio doors and admire them every day.
The light catches them and the scenes seem to come alive.
Laurie made a Santa puppet from felt and it, too, is ready to celebrate its 20th season on my mantle. Santa’s eyebrows are a bit askew, and his left eye is trying to make a run for it, but I love this puppet.
Thea, meanwhile, made a snowman out of soap flakes and though he has lost his twig arms and his eyes and even his jaunty top hat, he sits proudly next to Laurie’s Santa.
Each piece in the collection is a masterpiece and the only decorations I really want–decorations that keep my daughters on my knee, my arms able to gather them in, my nose in their hair breathing in their perfection.
I close my eyes when night fall comes; the lights on my crabapple tree in the front yard shining bravely through the snow and I remember my own childhood Christmas: the smell of the balsam cut from our farm, its perfectly-imperfect shape; artificial snow sprayed onto the stenciled candlesticks and snowmen on the living room window’s glass; red-and-green paper chains looping from one side of the window to the other; and attempted strings of popcorn that never seemed to work out.
Perry Como’s voice is reciting “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” from the scratchy record player; the tinsel hanging from the tree is catching the light from the faulty string of tree lights that blink on and off of their own volition (or they all go out until we can determine which bulb is the culprit).
My sister and I are giggling as we lie beneath the tree in the dark, playing with the wooden nativity scene, providing the sounds effects for the donkey and cow, for the lambs, as Baby Jesus lies in the manger. We are certain we can hear Santa and his eight tiny reindeer on the roof and see him peeking through the window at us; my brother pretending he doesn’t want to get up while we jump on his bed.
Through all of this, we knew the greater meaning of the season, could feel the solemn promise of hope.
In all my remembering, my heart recalls no gifts, no perfectly-turned-out meals, no masterpiece of decorating. It is all about the texture of the memories, the warmth and the sounds, the smells all enfolding me in the beauty of the past.
Merry Christmas to each of you, and may the warmth of Christmas remembering settle on your heart and make you smile.