simpler days

I miss my family.
I miss home – not the town, but the simple, beautiful, idealized home of my childhood.

Christmas mornings waking up with my cousin and playing with our finger puppets and tossing aside the well-intentioned and ever-present stocking stuffer orange. She and I haggling over who would get to hand out presents and that strange green elf doll.

I have flash-bulb images of one-piece pajamas, snow-covered backyard hills, a simple single strand of white lights that grandpa always put in a tree near the road, mom directing the decorating of the tree, my cousin and I getting yelled at by grandma for sliding from the linoleum kitchen into the living room on that lovely parquay flooring while aiming our feet into the teak tri-tables nestled together against the far wall.

When I was seven we had a quintessential, iconic white Christmas.

The week before was the usual hustle and bustle. Grandpa was tasked to scout out and chop down a good sized tree for the living room, mom organized all the decorations and started to put ceramic angels on the bookshelf and a handmade red with green piping runner across the dining room table, grandma was busy baking, and I was helping wherever I was needed. My cousin-who-is-like-a-sister and her parents were coming into town and the house smelled like festive evergreen and cookies.

That Christmas of 1978 we got bright blue toboggans. The whole family bundled up and piled out into the backyard snow to test the new toys. I have 16mm reel-to-reel film of the event. My mom and me doubling up on one toboggan, sister and her mom on another…and down the big backyard hill we’d fly! Toboggans don’t steer well, so often we’d end up sliding sideways and coming to an ungraceful stop launched off the blue plastic into the snow, laughing and tumbling together.

Every year thereafter, grandpa would pull out the projector and screen. While he was winding the tape through the projector and onto the reels, grandma would make after-dinner tea and coffee. Somehow, the two would be ready at the same time, and we’d take our places for viewing; my cousin and I on pillows on the floor at grandma and grandpa’s feet, mom and my uncle on the black roundy swivel chairs. It was warm and full of comments and laughter.

This is my ninth Christmas without my grandfather, the fourth without my dad, and the second without my grandmother.

This year, for the first time, I felt like I am losing my connection; as if ‘home’ is a fading idea.

I am so grateful for the wonderful memories I have. I was lucky in that I got to have those wonderful, iconic experiences growing up. And I am sad that they are forever gone.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, grandma and grandpa and dad.
I miss you all very much.