The Ghost of Christmas past
I remember the first time I skimmed the now familiar sentiment on a friend's facebook post.
The one that says, "Hold your child ever so tight, enjoy each and every second because you will NEVER EVER get this time back again."
I remember the eerie woefulness that sat on my heart like an emotional "gut-punch" plunging me into a sort of depression-like state and yet simultaneously summoning some fierce stubbornness that decried such fatalism, rising to look it square in the eye.
Happy Saturday morning.
Perhaps it's the howling wind. Or the innumerable twinkle lights that make the kitchen/living room so tempting in the middle of the night. Or both feeling pretty welcoming to some deep thinking, but yours truly is up and at 'em.
We are stepping into the first few inches of December and I'm already looking for a one-way ticket to slower schedules and less of everything.
Except twinkle lights.
They can stay permanently hanging from everywhere.
My childhood Christmases smell of Peppermint Schnapps.
They look like handrails covered in fake lighted garland reflecting off of a frosted glass front door.
They taste like my first ever candy "Turtles" from a collectable tin tucked under the kitchen counter, opened with a metal "key," each individually resting in accordion tissue paper, melding pecans into caramel with milk chocolate melting on your fingers.
And last but definitely not least, they sound like none other than "Burl Ives."
And because I have always loved Charles Dickens', "A Christmas Carol," I thought it fitting to send into the blogosphere three Christmas posts reflecting the three ghosts we have all come to know so well.
Some of us think they are best represented by the "Muppets.'
Spoiler alert: that would be me.
I also add a shameless plug for the movie, "The Man who Invented Christmas," if you haven't seen that either.
Both are golden in this household.
And joining the club are the 90's just about every iconic literary movie depiction.
I will die on this hill.
So tonight, I mean, very early this morning we will visit the ghost of Christmas past.
And if something weird happens I WILL most assuredly blame it on "a bit of undigested beef or a blob of mustard."
Both being a very real possibility now that I am in my mid-forties.
In my mind's eye I can see me dancing around my 80's living room in the tiniest tan slightly "belled" corduroy jeans, hair frizzed over my shoulders and repeating that every.single.solitary.gift was magically, "Just what I wanted."
I have the VHS tapes to prove this.
The truth is that that I had NO IDEA what I "wanted."
There was that fateful Christmas Day when the smell of my sister Denise's new flavored lip smackers seemed to be "just what my little heart wanted" also.
And by "wanted," I mean that I rolled each of them up and proceeded to EAT the "chocolate," "strawberry," and "Cherry" petroleum goodness in less than a hot minute.
Little did I know at that time that that was NOT at ALL "WHAT I WANTED."
It may however have aided an occasional bout with IBS that flares oddly enough around the New Year.
Thanks for that, little bell-bottom Deena.
There was also the Christmas that my Step-Grandmother received a decorative spoon blessed by the Pope that she wanted each of us grandkids to kiss.
Ahem, I also have the VHS tapes to prove THIS.
I think that had more to do with Schnapps than saintliness in retrospect.
Now that I have a brood of my own these stories make my kids roar with laughed mingled with their own stories of their Christmases that have come and gone.
I really feel for us Moms but never more so than in December.
If we don't have hanging mitten activities coordinating with the entire month of advent,
Or make our own salted hot chocolate with tiny charcuterie boards in muffin tins,
and visit the cat shelter no less than three times,
I dare say are we even Moms?
No wonder the sale of sleeping aids and tums skyrocket before the snow even flies.
With half of my crew now adulting, I send this plea into the internet chasm:
"There is only a ghost of Christmas past if you allow there to be."
This isn't one of those instagram infomercials telling you to psychologically "think" yourself thin.
Not that I have entertained even the thought of one of those, mind you.
This is a real-deal piece of encouragement.
The mantra that tells you that these moments will never come again, that says you must swing longer, cuddle longer, read Amelia Bedelia until her name is forever silkscreened onto your frontal lobes because you will NEVER EVER In the history of EVER have this time again,
Yep. I said it.
And "kudos" to Peggy and Herman Parish who will never let us read one of their page-turners without saying their main character's FULL NAME no less than ten times EACH PAGE.
But I digress.
You will never get those moments back.
You will also hopefully never have to potty train again also.
Unless a really bad stomach flu goes through the house.
Here's the thing.
Memories are memories because they happened - wait for it - in the P-A-S-T.
When in the course of human events our children turn 22, they most likely will not want you to swing WITH them.
They would rather beat you in "Code Names," or "Rook."
The swing was a great memory, but I personally love these "Rook" evenings just as much or even more.
They are maturing, you don't care about how your bangs are styled anymore,
It's a win-win.
It's crazy to me with all that already comes to the forefront to remind me that I have struggled at this thing called "parenting," that I would let GOOD memories haunt me too.
That I would set myself up to mourn the very moment of sweetness as it is transpiring instead of preserving it like delicious strawberries in season to open and taste in the middle of winter.
Call me crazy but life is just too short for that mess.
So this year, this Christmas I gave you my heart and the very next day, you gave it away.
(Okay that was just too good to pass up. Sorry.)
This Christmas I defy the songs that say, "Slow down, be little, don't spread your wings," because you may actually fly away to college and come home an amazing human being.
(go back and re-read that because it's some good stuff. If I do say so myself.)
I laugh in the face of the Pinterest prompts that say, "If it's not a new footprint ornament it didn't happen."
I challenge anyone who says that each year doesn't get better and better and so much better that new memories are just as amazing as the old and that looking forward is just as sweet as looking in the rear view mirror.
I'm beginning again to teach another driver that the rear view is good to check but it's impossible to drive any length according to it.
On an old car.
I laugh because when my kids were grown it was all the rage to tell us young Moms that we should "just wait," until they eat, walk, talk, read, and now we are telling our young Moms, don't wait. Are they eating, walking, talking, reading?
Oh. I'm so sorry. The best is over. Call it a day.
Ghosts I tell you. Nothing but ghosts.