Waking Christmas morning, I sneak out of bed and creep down the hall. Sidestepping the squeaky floorboards, I make my way to the living room. Sitting just outside, I gaze at the mound of colorful packages under the tree. I inhale deeply the smell of pine from the tree that’s decorated with stringed popcorn and cranberries, paper chains made from colorful construction paper, ornaments, lots of tinsel, and colored lights. The tree is heaven when the lights are on. However, I am the first one to wake up, so I sit in the pale light of dawn. Waiting for everyone else to wake up. Then the happy chaos will begin.
That was me as a child. Now, forty plus years later, I still remember clearly those magical Christmas mornings. With a family of my own, I’ve lived away from the place of my birth for most of my adult life. Living in Asia, I don’t make it back to the States very often for Christmas.
Today, I finished packing our Christmas decorations into a red, blue, and white Hong Kong bag and stuffed it behind my daughter’s door. This officially marked the end of the holiday for another year. As soon as the bag found its new home, my mind began to reflect on memories of Christmas’s past. When January rolls around, it is common to reflect on the past year. However, my reflections take me much further back. I am particularly nostalgic this year as my mom is very sick.
Growing up, my mom made Christmas a magical time for my siblings and I. From decorating our tree with homemade or meaningful ornaments to decorating baked cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles. My dad made the fudge, while my mom made “buckeye” chocolate-peanut butter balls. I happily rolled around the house with a full to bursting belly.
Christmas Eve, we piled into the wood-paneled station wagon and made our way to walk amongst the livestock at the living nativity set up outside the courthouse. We drove around neighborhoods looking for yards and homes lit up with Christmas lights. Dressed in our Christmas best, the boys in suits and the girls in festive red or green dresses, we attended a church service. Singing the last song, “Silent Night” while holding lit candles was enchanting.
Christmas morning, I woke to stare at the beautiful packages, lovingly wrapped by my mom. When the day got underway, she patiently sat on the floor handing out our gifts. Wearing a smile on her face as each child took turns ripping open their presents. I remember the excitement of receiving an Easy Bake oven and a Chatty Cathy doll. As I grew older, my gifts included psychedelic colored bell bottom pants and mini-skirts; Saddle Oxford shoes and Go-Go boots. My mom made sure everyone received what they asked Santa for. Her beautifully handstitched Christmas stockings were saved for last. Excitedly, we unloaded the treats and small gifts that were stuffed inside.
I not only feel nostalgic today; I also feel thankful. With five children, my mom refereed and organized the ebb and flow of the household. It was no small feat. I had home. I am forever thankful for the underpinning of security and love that lived there. It has created in me the person I am today. My appreciation and an abundance of love go out to my mom!
This photo was taken in May 2017 at my mom & dad’s 60th wedding anniversary celebration!
**A tiny tidbit … The red-white-blue bag (Chinese:紅白藍膠袋) or laundry bag is a carriage bag made from nylon canvas. It originated in Hong Kong in the 1960s and has become a representative of Hong Kong culture. Because the nylon canvas is known for its light, firmness and durable usage, it is commonly used as hand carry luggage and transport between Mainland China and Hong Kong. (Wikipedia)