Newark Advocate Column
Reminiscing on the joys of Christmases gone by
Holidays are times to reflect and remember. As I look forward to Christmas present, a sight, sound, or smell can bring back memories of Christmases past. Every time I hear the song, “Away In A Manager,” I am mentally transported back in time to a party in a country school the year I was 5. My 24-year-old mother played that Christmas Carol on an upright piano while my 7-year-old brother stood beside her and sang a solo. Then when the audience had sufficiently applauded and my brother was taking a bow, we heard the jingling of bells before jolly old St. Nick burst into the room. When it was time for him to press a bag of candy into my hand, I was surprised to see how much Santa resembled my uncle who had disappeared from the room a short time earlier.
When I see the beautifully lighted courthouse each year, it reminds me of when, after World War II, as a teenager, I stood with my friends on the snow covered lawn of the courthouse for the momentous occasion of seeing the Christmas lights turned on for the first time since before the war started. Since that war had dominated our lives for as long as we could remember, turning on the lights seemed symbolic to us that the sacrifices made by those only a few years older than we were would assure that our children and grandchildren would truly live in a time of peace on earth and goodwill to men.
A few years later, I remember the excitement of my small children as we stood in that spot. While they tolerated the lighting of the courthouse, I can picture their excitement when Santa Claus appeared on the roof top of a nearby store. While Santa may have appeared in different ways, the ritual has been repeated, and memories have been created for our grandchildren and more recently our great-grandchildren.
A kitchen filled with the aroma of fresh baked cookies reminds me of so many past Christmases, but the pre-holiday tradition our family had when my mother, children, and grandchildren and I got together at one or another of our houses and spent the day baking cookies and making candy tops them all. After a companionable day spent measuring, mixing and baking while Christmas Carols played in the background, we’d divide the goodies, Then, our stomachs full of sweets, tired but happy, we’d take our bounty and the memories we were creating and return to our own homes.