Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas memories

Banana is four years old. When she was about two, I told her all about Santa Claus and how he brings presents in his sleigh to boys and girls around the world. WT was miffed, to say the least. "We're not really going to let her believe in Santa, are we?" he asked gruffly. "Of course we are!" I replied. He felt we were lying to her. I said it was a lie that every American kid could deal with, just like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. He disagreed with me, but acquiesced and let me continue the charade. "You can comfort her when she finds out it's all a lie," he told me.

Tonight, the Norriton Volunteer Fire Company came roaring down our street on their ladder truck, and lo and behold, there was Santa himself in the back, waving and smiling. We threw on sweaters and shoes and ran outside to wave. You have to understand, we live on a very busy thoroughfare. But don't you know, they saw us standing and waving and smiling, and they stopped that truck and a junior firefighter got out and handed a candy cane to Banana. He climbed back aboard the truck, lights flashing, sirens wailing, and all the firemen smiled and said, "Merry Christmas!" Banana was starstruck, and frankly, so was WT.

"That was so COOL!" he said when we got inside. He had never witnessed that before. I leaned over and whispered so Banana couldn't hear, "That's why you believe in Santa. Magical things happen." And I do believe he understood why I wanted to let Banana believe too.

My mother loved Christmas. We didn't have many traditions in my family, but most of our traditions were centered around Christmas. The four of us, me, Mom, Dad, and Little Brother, would decorate the tree together and listen to holiday music. Dad would put the lights on the tree and curse as my mother directed him, "No, HIDE the cord, Richard." Then we would all put ornaments on the tree, and my mother would come behind us and rearrange them so that they were evenly spaced. Sometimes we would put tinsel on, sometimes not. Many ornaments were handmade, and we still hang them on Dad's tree today - the felt and glitter angels that Aunt Ruthie made, the macaroni angel that Mom bought at a school craft fair, the starfish painted like Santa from Cape May; the list goes on and on. But Mom's favorite ornament was a handmade one, one that I made in December 1978, in kindergarten. It was an angel made of blue and red construction paper, with three tiny pieces of tinsel glued to her dress with thick elementary school paste, and a crayon smily face. It's awfully faded now, and practically falling apart, but a couple of years ago, when Mom was still here and not sick yet, she decided to replace our traditional corn-husk angel on the top of the tree with my kindergarten construction paper angel. And it still is there today, almost 30 years later. It's strange how things can last longer than people, but the things remind you of the people, and that's good.

I hope that I can create as many happy memories for the Banana as my mother and father created for me. Mom let me believe in Santa, and every Christmas, we listened to our favorite holiday music - Christmas Carols with John Denver and the Muppets. I know, everyone laughs, but I have the same tape in the recorder now that I listened to as a child, and together Banana and I sing and decorate our tree with meaningful ornaments, and we go outside and see Santa on the fire truck, just like I did when I was her age.

Memories are what make us human. Our lives are nothing without good memories, or bad memories, for that matter. My parents provided me with myriad good memories, and they help me get through the bad ones. I only had my mom for 33 years, but she lives in my heart and my mind still, and there she is well and happy and she can talk and dance. And wherever she is now, she is listening to John Denver and the Muppets and decorating a tree, perhaps with her mom and her dad. We miss her here, though.

Susan, Sue, Susie Q, Mom

1947 - 2006

Gone too soon. Miss you Mom.


At 8:58 AM, Blogger Liz K. said...

Sal, there are tears streaming down my face. What a beautiful post.

This first year without Mom is bound to be a tough one. It never feels quite "right" around here without my father.

I'm wishing you peace and lots more magic this Christmas with your beloved Banana and WT.

{{{{Big hug}}}}

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous anne marie said...

wow, what a post!

can't you see your mom AND john denver AND jim henson sitting around a tree singing carols? what a hoot!

peaceful greetings to you and all your family members and friends.

PS - only 8 days til.....

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Devorah said...

What a beautiful tribute! May the joy of the season overshadow the sadness of losing your mom and allow you to wallow in the sweet momories.


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