Friday, February 22, 2013
Growing Up Christmas
These pictures were taken on Christmas Eve. We had a lovely family gathering at my cousin Jana's house. I got a strange feeling seeing all my cousins' little kids running around--it made me flash back to not so long ago when it was us playing together and nearly trembling with excitement to see what the morning would bring. Sometimes it seems my life could be summarized by the Christmases I've lived. I wonder what it would be like to string them together and live them all in succession.
There was the year when I was just over one. I don't remember it, but my parents fondly relate how I proudly hung a dozen silk-wrapped ornaments all on the same low branch.
I remember a Christmas morning at my grandma's large house: her 12-foot Christmas tree covered in glowing lights, my mom's siblings sitting on long couches in robes, feeling like it took forever between my "turns" opening gifts in the sequence of youngest to oldest. Santa brought me a little shopping cart that year, and I pushed it around impatiently as my grandma meticulously collected the discarded wrappings in a large black sack.
We lived in a small house on Jarvis Avenue in San Jose, and we woke up one Christmas to a large plastic playhouse, complete with a blue slide, in our family room. I'm not sure if it was the same year, but I remember watching proudly as my sister opened the little gift I'd bought her at my school store: a pencil with a large red Clifford eraser on it.
One year, my little brother Steven, who lived in a chronic state of hypochondriasis, told us frequently even before December that he was going to be sick on Christmas. Sure enough, he was. That may have happened a couple years in a row. He hailed himself a prophet; the rest of us agreed, but of the self-fulfilling variety.
We rounded the corner into the living room and were confronted with a 7+ foot tall inflatable tyrannosaurus rex. Steven was thrilled, and my parents were pleased my dad's lightheadedness and spent lungs weren't for nothing.
I knelt in front of a modest Christmas tree one Christmas Eve on my mission and desperately prayed. I awoke the next morning filled with light and love, peace and hope--the best Christmas gift I've ever received.
Now that I've experienced 29 Christmases, it's hard to separate the swirl of memories into specific years. It's growing difficult to remember specifics at all. But replacing crisp-edged memories of that magical time in December is an overarching feeling of warmth, of love, of fun, and of family.
How much life can change in a year! Kate is so big with her little barrette, her two teeth, her jabbering, and her interest in toys.
But still, how much life stays the same--a string of Christmases filled with light.