It's that time of year again, the crazy Christmas shopping rush. I live by a mall, so that's always evident to me as soon as it begins. The holidays don't just bring traffic and Salvation Army bell ringers, if you're like me, it's a time to reflect on family gatherings and the ones who won't be here to celebrate with you as they once did. Like poetry, music and songs can be interpreted in a variety of ways. For some reason this year, "I'll be home for Christmas" has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Why this year? Why in this way? I don't really know, but for some reason when I first heard it this year, I could only think of family members that wouldn't be home for Christmas. They would be here, 'only in my dreams,' you could say.
I think about my Auntie who inspired me to be a better person, I would say tolerant, but tolerance implies that there is something wrong and you're just not saying anything about how you really feel. She taught me to be accepting of certain differences and a few simple words changed my outlook forever. We had argued about a small portrait of the Virgin Mary that she wanted to give me, I told her I didn't want it, that it didn't mean anything to me. Finally she said, "It means something to me." I took the portrait and have applied this simple wisdom to so many aspects of my life. I think of Auntie at Christmas and I wish I could go sit next to her and talk to her again. In much the same way the main character saved and cataloged family memorabilia in the movie "Everything is Illuminated," I write because I do not wish to forget. Each piece I write memorializes some event, a feeling or just a significant moment.
'Please have snow and mistletoe..." My father's family always had a big Christmas Eve party. I can remember my Mammy always prepared a special meal for me because I wouldn't eat the typical food on the table. I'm still as picky, as you get older people do not wish to accomodate your pickiness. I usually leave Thanksgiving and Christmas 'feasts' hungry. Regardless, those old gatherings stick with me this time of year, I don't need the ghost of Christmas past to guide me, I am already there. Looking out over the rooftops of a porch in Mid-City, to the sky where they said Santa Claus was flying. Those were magical times with magical people. Never take for granted the impact a few simple words will have on a child through its lifetime.
For now, I'm remembering the ones who can't be here this year, my Auntie, Paw Paw, Mammy, Uncle T, Aunt Mildred, Nenny and Nez, Aunt Rae Ann, Aunt Cleo. I wish you could all be home for Christmas in the way that I remember; for now, you will all remain only in my dreams. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.