Monday, December 15, 2008

Home for Christmas

Illustration by Richard Cowdrey in
Frosty the Snowman

♫ I'll be home for Christmas...If only in my dreams. ♫

If you went home for Christmas, where would you go?
I'd go to the town in this picture.
It's what childhood looks like in my dreams.

The snow glistened in the late afternoon after a snow storm. I remember making snow angels in the backyard as lacy snowflakes drifted from the sky. We were waiting for our dad to come home from work, playing Fox and Geese and wishing the deep, fluffy powder would hold shape for snowballs. It caught in my eyelashes and melted on my tongue.

I had a red wool coat trimmed with black velveteen edging, and matching wool leggings. Leggings weren't made of spandex, and they weren't form fitting in those days. They were heavy, prickly trousers with suspenders crossed in the back so they wouldn't fall down. I couldn't manipulate my fingers into gloves, so I had mittens on a string running through both sleeves. Unless the snow was unusually wet, it didn't soak through the mittens, and our mountain powder snow didn't feel quite as cold then as it does now. My hat matched my coat and had a little brim in the front, with itchy earmuffs that tickled where they tied under my chin. Red rubber boots made footprints that my brother's blue rubber boots followed around the yard.

My memory is probably a composite of many winter evenings. I can see the Christmas tree twinkling through the French doors to the living room, and my mother in the kitchen feeding my baby sister in her high chair. It seemed that we played outside for hours, but having raised some kids myself, I know that it takes longer to get on the snowsuits than children can ever last in the cold out-of-doors.

After Dad came home, he built a fire in the basement "Big Room" as we called it. There was a Christmas tree down there, too, with blinking, colored lights, glittering with foil icicles. My folks were hosting a party for the 16-year-old kids Dad taught in Sunday School. Mom rolled up the big braided rug on the floor, and Dad sprinkled the linoleum with sawdust. Later when I peeked in, the room was lit by just the tree and the crackling fire, while the guests danced to rock and roll in their socks. They wore poodle skirts, and skinny ties and belts, ponytails and Brylcreme, and I could hardly wait to be a teenager.

Part of going home for Christmas to me is revisiting happy memories. But there are new meanings to the phrase with every year.

Today Santa brought a surprise!

This little angel came home to visit Oma and Opa.

And suddenly our house was filled with laughter. I hope when my little angels look back on their memories, the snow isn't cold, the lights shine like stars and love floods their hearts. That's how it feels to go home for Christmas.


marta said...

a truly special season surprise. thanks for having a cozy warm place to party in. it's a wonderful life!

Sheri said...

Marty--I think I had the exact same snow outfit! Weren't those leggings itchy? Remember tucking your dress down into the leggings when you went out to recess at William Penn?

BTW my older sisters had ponytails and poodle skirts and my brother had the skinny ties and skinny belts plus a duck-tail hair cut.

Keri(th) said...

I think this post just melted my winter sickness away. I love reading about your memories.

i'm kelly said...

i always love your memories. & little benji is such a doll!

The Grandmother Here said...

Hi! I'm Diana Bobo from Oma's Ward. The Christmas picture reminds me of the wonderful picture book "Snowmen At Night." I recommend it highly.

Polly said...

Thank you for writing about our childhood. Even though I don't remember this particular event. I do remember our basement in that house and the braided rug and how mom and dad always made any event special. Our home was always filled with love and lots of fun. We are blessed to come from such a great family!