It’s interesting the things we remember and the things we don’t; especially at special times like the holidays. I heard someone asking recently, “What were your top 3 favorite Christmas presents?” I think it was on TV, but it prompted me to ask myself that same question. I thought about it and tried to recall favorite gifts from my childhood. I do remember the guitar. I also remember the easy bake oven that my mother swore I’d never get because it was sure to make a horrid mess. That was the year Santa was confirmed for me. Mother never would have gotten an easy bake oven; she told me so.
I had to dig for those two material memories. I was sifting among the other, more vivid recollections; the clearer, more colorful reminiscences that bring a smile to my face and a thankful, happy tear to my eye.
I remember home; the warm southern Mississippi temperatures, Christmas trees, and family faces. I remember everyone taking turns opening presents in order of age, but I don’t remember what was in the packages themselves. I remember throwing olives at my sister at the other end of the table and my grandmother’s disapproving but slightly amused glances. I remember the kids’ table and the grown ups’ table and who sat where…and when. I remember anxiously waiting for my first cousin to show up on Christmas day from Florida to spend several days with us and how we slept on the rarely used, foldout couch and made up silly songs late into the night. I recall the warmth and laughter of having all the family together and the traditional meal. I can still see my grandfather ceremoniously cutting the turkey, and I can taste my grandmother’s incredible ambrosia. I remember a feeling of belonging amidst the organized chaos of food preparation, making room, organizing gifts, seating arrangements and numerous conversations going on at once.
Still, I don’t recall most of the tangible gifts. I remember pictures and sounds, smells and tastes. Maybe those are what are worth remembering after all. Gifts, for all their anticipation and pleasure at the time, are often tossed aside after the season; outdated and wholesale Christmas costumes.