weather report: slight chance of nostalgia
I don't recall the last time we had a white Christmas around these parts. I'm sure that when I was a child, we had them all the time. Right?
I wonder how many of my Christmas memories are colored not by real happenings, but by television commercials and magazine articles and other people's polaroids.
When I envision Christmas Past, I see myself as a small child, dressed to the hilt in gloves, parka, snow boots, some itchy woolen hat with a pom-pom attached and, if my grandmother was around, plastic sandwich bags around my socks for extra protection. I see at least two feet of snow on the ground, and every lawn decorated with real snowmen, not those blow-up doll versions of today. Carrot for a nose, coal for eyes, a real honest-to-goodness stovepipe hat and the most perfect of all branches that jut out like real arms and hands.
I'm almost positive it would snow every Christmas Eve, beginning just about midnight. And I know that if I stayed very, very still in my bed I could hear not only the glistening, powdery snow falling to the ground, but the slight jingle of sleighbells in the distance. Maybe even a ho! ho! ho! if I listened very, very carefully.
And I'm pretty sure that when I woke up Christmas morning, before the sun, before even the birds, that I would immediately spring to the window and pull up the shades and be greeted by the hugest snowfall ever. The moon, still hovering in the dark morning sky, would reflect on the whiteness below and everything appeared to be tinged in an early morning vision of blue. The snow sparkled and shimmered in the moonlight and the perfectly formed icicles that hung off the rain gutter of every house on my block reflected the moonlight and made those wee hours look as if a magic spell had turned my street into a Christmas fairy land.
And I know that when I woke up my sisters at that ungodly hour and we ran in to shake my parents until they opened their sleepy eyes, that everyone was incredibly excited to be awake at 4am, even my parents. We would trudge into the living room, fuzzy slippers shuffling on the carpet, and either mom or dad would turn the tree lights on and the living room would come alive with color and flashes and the huge, spinning, majestic star on top of the tree seemed to dance.
I'm pretty sure that we would all exclaim at the same time that Santa indeed had arrived, even my parents, who looked as astonished as us girls and we would weep with joy because Santa loved us so.
In my memories, the three of us, sisters full of love and wonder, would sit by the fireplace as mom and dad handed us present after present - Chatty Cathy and E-Z bake ovens and K-Tel records and trinkets that seemed to be made of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We never fought, us angelic sisters. We didn't compare or contrast or argue over presents. We just shared each other's joy and felt the warmth from our parents, who praised Santa for rewarding such well behaved children so lavishly.
I'm almost positive that we would then dress up in our winter ensemble, the boots and jackets and scarves, and we would frolick out in the deep, soft snow with all the neighborhood children, and the nice man from across the street would offer sleigh rides to all the children, whose cheeks were flush and rosy and whose laughter filled the air.
I force these nostalgic visions of the Christmases that really weren't upon my own children, regaling them with tales of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and riding in a one horse open sleigh. They eye me suspiciously, as if these memories of mine could not possibly be real.
Oh, I am in no way saying that the real version of my Christmas Past does not fulfill my sense of nostalgia; even the visions of my sisters and I fighting over gifts and the itchy pajamas we had to wear and my parents not being very joyous at 4am still make me smile.
Even if we never had a white Christmas at all, in my mind's postcard of those holidays, the ground is always white and there's a huge spruce in my front yard and sleighbells can be heard at midnight. My memories get mixed up with Norman Rockwell paintings and Christmas poems.
Still, all that nostalgia is made of a few real things, whether or not there was snow on the ground. It's made of family and warmth and the anticipation that comes with being a kid on Christmas eve.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.