Christmas at Home Never Fades Away 🎄

by Patrice M. Wilson

What touches one most at Christmas? Memories, especially if one was born in the early ‘50s to my parents in my home in New Jersey. The Christmas caroling one night some time before Christmas Eve, with the Girl Scouts that year, my Aunt Jean was the songleader; the accumulated snow still falling softly while we girls sang at the doorsteps of the homebound; the hot cocoa afterwards in my living room in front of the fireplace as we sat or lay facing the fire, listening to Yuletide music on my Dad’s HiFi. Mom had served me and my cousin Kim and my Aunt the drinks, and was now back in the kitchen baking cookies that smelled so good in our warm house; Dad was out in the snow, helping to distribute food and fuel to the poor in our little town.

And Christmas Eve, when I and my two sisters were younger, dressed in our nightclothes, gathered on the couch after dark, with small carol books collected by my Mom, and with HiFi musical accompaniment by Percy Faith and his orchestra, coordinated by my Dad. We went to bed early that night, but I could not sleep for hearing my parents scrambling up and down the stairs, retrieving goodies from under their beds and in their closets, to arrange under the tree, which we had decorated with Mom during the day.

Then the special dresses for Christmas from Grandma Nana, to wear to Church early in the morning for us three girls, who walked the couple and a half blocks to Saint Joseph’s, for Children’s Mass. We would come home and watch TV to wait for Mom and Dad to get up and go to the noon Mass, return, prepare, and serve brunch. We were not allowed to touch anything before our after-brunch sit-down in front of the tree while Dad stoked the fire in his after-Church black and red-checkered shirt. Then he would sit down, reach under the tree, pick up the first gift available, announce the “To” and “From,” and then pass it to the eager receiver. She would thank the giver and Dad would go to the next gift. This seemed to last for a long time, but I always enjoyed that ritual every year, along with all the others of the day and season. Later, two brothers and another sister came along to share with us.

At day’s end, the tree still lit, and the electric red candle wreaths shining in each front window, guess who was quietly grateful and happy for that lovely holy day and holiday? Guess who went to bed smiling and serene and glad for the week off until the day after New Year’s? And guess who has built an artificial fireplace with none-burning, crackling fire, who has an Advent Wreath and small tree, and loves making and sending gifts all the way to the East Coast and other now far-away places, who will be making cookies and who-knows-what-else for her friends, from her small apartment in Hawaii the days, nights, and hours before Christmas? I will give you only one chance to come up with the right answer.

Christ’s blessings to you all!

Born Catholic in Newark NJ, raised in Catholic schools, Patrice M. Wilson has a PhD in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, having earned her MA there and her BA at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was editor of the very fine Hawaii Pacific Review for 16 years while teaching at Hawaii Pacific University. She has three chapbooks of poetry with Finishing Line Press, and one full-length poetry collection with Christian publisher eLectio Publishing. Dr. Wilson recently spent five years in the cloistered Carmelite monastery in Kaneohe, HI. She is now a retired professor living in Mililani, Oahu, HI.

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