Christmas is here, a time of year when I feel inexplicably content and happy much of the time. As I’ve gotten older Christmas has become less about “getting stuff” and feasting, and more about memories. Somehow it all adds up so that Christmas is a satisfying time even if the joys are very modest and small. My most vivid memories of Christmas as a child are of the tree brought home each year by my stepfather and set in a battered red pail, which my mother filled with rocks to hold it up…then beautifully decorated it. And her banana bread, which she baked every Christmas morning and which we ate while we opened our presents.
I’m linking to an article by Garrison Keillor which is just lovely, and speaks to his memories of his own mother and her love of Christmas, even though her mother died when she was seven and she had no memories of her. Keillor’s grandmother died young of scarlet fever in the early 1920s, and so did my great-grandmother, around the same time, leaving two young children. As Keillor writes, “What you do for children is never wasted: this Christmas will live on and nourish them long after you have faded away.”
I’m grateful that my mother passed her love of Christmas on to us. That was the best gift she could have given.