Christmas Stockings

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Remember When

Remember the Christmas when we had the living tree?

No one had ever heard of it, but our father did. I think it was 1969.

The Sitka spruce stands in front of our old house dwarfing it now and protecting from the wicked north winds.

Remember the Christmas when we both got ice skates?

And we went skating on the coldest Christmas day ever?

It was so cold, no matter how hard you pushed off you couldn’t glide.

And we came so close to freezing our fingers and toes?

But it was so much fun it didn’t matter.

Remember the Christmas when the church put on their version of the Grinch who stole Christmas? I know Diana was too little to remember, but I do! And when the green clad mand in his stockings and cap strode across the stage, and five year old me was so shocked, I said oh you bad wicked man! And the whole audience had to fight to contain their snickers and giggles. And the actor heard me, never missed a beat, but added one line, “Yes, I am!”

Do you remember the Christmas when Dad found a recording of Handel’s Messiah? We sat together listening to the magnificent singing, the incredible choruses and were grateful for the power of belief that created such beauty?

The stories kept coming as we sat in Mom’s hospital room, with the heartbreaking knowledge this Christmas would be her last. My sister and I had decorated the room, and miniature tree sat sparkling on the window ledge. On the hospital chest of storage drawers, the Advent wreath, tradition in our house for as long as I could remember held four candles flickering with tiny flames. We’d even strung a piece of mistletoe over her door.

My sister had found a small CD player and had taken the time to burn a few old German Christmas carols onto a CD, that along with a favorite recording mom had from years ago of the bells pealing across Germany as they greeted the New Year.

Diana had baked, all the traditional cookies from grandma’s recipes. And even mom, who had no appetite, sampled a few of them. And of course, the bar of real Swiss chocolate made an appearance as well.

When mom’s head began to droop, we ended the night with our voices blending in song, and the staff who heard came to sing with us. Silent Night rang through the hallways as more joined and the few who had to make a celebration out of the tragedy running through their lives, found comfort in the beautiful song of Noel gone by.

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