Last week end in Raleigh, was”time well spent”. Mama and I arrived on Friday. It was an unseasonably warm day and so not long after getting there, I took little Ryan out for a stroll. A few trees were still celebrating autumn with bright apricot leaves-and some were golden too. How they lit up the landscape! We met an older woman hand delivering her Christmas cards. This cheered me, for it was something familiar. With Christmas so very different this year . . I found the encounter, beautiful. . . and did not take it lightly. Likewise, a simple wreath on a door, did my heart “good’. I remembered how I especially love familiar things.
I remembered a time, when folks did “hand deliver ” their Christmas cards – and how decorations were simple, but spoke volumes, anyway. Grandmama made her “fruit cocktail” cake and sat it on the “deep freeze’ and the Christmas albums were played daily. The house smelled to “high heaven” of apples and oranges at Christmas – a tradition spawned a century ago, in my family, when such things were only available at Christmas. When things changed, my elders did not. One of my sweetest memories, was Delores and I waking up to the smell of apples and oranges-and calling out to one another, “Wake up! It is Christmas!”
How fitting it was, that Ryan and I went home to Sydney and Mama in the kitchen, baking gingerbread cookies.
I lost count of the books, that Mama read to Ryan, that night. I am thrilled that Ryan dearly loves being read to-and Mama was more than willing to accommodate him. Later, Brant took Ryan for their usual before bedtime revelry while Sydney, Mama and I watched It Happened on Fifth Avenue-and ate cookies.
On Saturday, my sister, Delores and niece Dana. came for a visit. Mama would leave for a visit with them, as they live just under an hour away. This was the first of our new plan for Christmas. Visits with one another, instead of our usual large, ‘all in’ gathering. It really is a fine alternative, under the circumstances, though, it does lack the luster of the former feelings of Christmas ‘ past. . .but who knows, this altered state of Christmas, may at last force us to dwell, on the “holiness” more than the holly.
On Sunday, Brant, Sydney, Ryan and I, traveled to have lunch, at my sisters’ house -and to bring Mama back. it was another day, like late April, but it was Christmas inside. The tree was lovely, though Delores was not pleased with it initially. She is quite picky about her tree and spent the best part of two days, this year, selecting one. Surely, whatever qualms Delores had, are now dismissed. I was quite moved to see the collection of nutcrackers, that I had given my nephew, Brandon, over the years, displayed all over the downstairs. How many years, they reflected! I was glad. to have started the tradition, for they all seemed to fill the house with a proclamation of love.
After our lunch, we all went out to watch Ryan frolic about. Ryan loves sticks and acorns and leaves and he will usually have at least one of those things clinched in his little hands. He would rather be outside, in the first place, which pleases me. I love to see his fair face facing up, gazing at the sky. I carry this picture with me, to rely on, when there is distance between us.
We came back in the mid afternoon, and fell right back in to that routine of Mama reading to Ryan, and all of us eating cookies. That night we watched “The Bishops’ Wife”, which I had suggested on multiple occasions, ever since I had arrived. I do not know, if Sydney had ever watched movies that old. She was delightful company and is too well mannered to complain. . .and I think she enjoyed them!
Regular readers know, that I am hopelessly sentimental and “old fashioned” too. It is true. When I find something good , something authentic, something worthy enough to carry , I can not “leave it behind” like a burned out strand of lights, that certainly has no further use. Instead, ” I keep lovely things”. ..like souvenirs, tucked lovingly in my heart. I practice the old ways as best I can, for it is another way to” tell the story” to my grandchildren and to honor the memory of the elders. To the old ways, we add new ways and so the story grows into our unique version.
One day, the grandchildren will ask me why the house smells of apples and oranges at Christmas. . .and I will say “let me tell you a story . . .