Christmas Memories

My sister, as a baby.

For many of us, the holiday season is much more than an opportunity to eat too much food, spend too much money and get presents (notice I did not say too many – can there be such a thing?).

The holidays are about the relationships we share with those we love. About the special feelings we keep in our hearts and the individual moments of innate sweetness that we want to remember forever.

The Christmas season always make me think of my sister. She was born with a brain tumor that continued to grow throughout her life. She also had epilepsy and never quite reached mental maturity. Five years ago, she passed away from head trauma resulting from one of her seizures.

She was 14 years old when I was born and really messed up the good thing she had going. She had been the baby of the family for all that time and liked things as they were. Along came this interloper who threw the world as she knew it into a tailspin. To say there was a bit of resentment on her part would be a mild understatement. Most of the time, I think my presence was a constant reminder that her position had been usurped.

But Christmas…Christmas, with its wonderful magical air would sweep over her with a beautiful blanket of peace and goodwill and things would be different. The desire to have fun, to be good because Santa was watching, took over.

My Dad and brothers with my sister - mid 1950s.

She would start making presents for everyone. Under different circumstances, I think she would have been a great artist. She liked to draw cartoons and did a bang up job with it. Her favorite character to draw was Snoopy. She also liked to do stitching. The last Christmas she was really with us, she stitched up two little pictures of dogs (another of her favorite things) and gave one to me and one to Hubby.

Although she wasn’t overly fond of the great outdoors, before Christmas she could be found outside attempting to build a snowman or plotting some way to bombard unsuspecting individuals with snowballs.

She would get involved with things she normally ignored the rest of the year, like baking and decorating. The decorating would nearly throw my Mom into a tailspin sometimes.

I don’t know where it came from but there was a music box – a little golden bird cage with a tiny bird inside that would tweet a holiday tune (which I can’t even remember now). She would dig through the decorations until she found it, the nostalgic aroma of bayberry wafting out of the storage box and filling the room with a scent that forevermore will bring a picture to mind of our family decking the halls, circa 1978. Once found, she would have that bird tweeting over and over until I thought my parents would throw it in a snowbank. As annoying as it was, it wasn’t Christmas until she got that music box out and played it a dozen times.

I’d like the opportunity, just once more, to watch her play that music box, to hear the bird tweet, to see the look of wonder and joy that filled her face each holiday season.

So my wish for you this holiday season is a wish that you cherish every precious moment with those you love and hold dear. Make some beautiful Christmas memories with them this year. Ones that take up a very special little corner in your heart.

With Christmas Love,

Shanna

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