Sunday, January 1, 2012

Remembering Our First Christmas!

I have so many good memories of Christmases with my husband. Our first was in Coalville, Utah in the abandoned house we talked some people into renting to us. They charged us $65 a month and we found ways to make the old place into a home. We were in just before Christmas so the tree was one of our first adornments and one of our first rituals together. Mike was 5 and Christmas was so exciting to him that year. We had the most beautiful tree and Jack later said it was the most beautiful one he ever had ever seen. We never could make one quite that pretty again. We used that spun fiberglass on it and it radiated white halos around every light. I don’t think they sell that stuff anymore. Too dangerous to kids and pets. Though we had just arrived in Utah on November 25th , and we looked for housing for weeks, we somehow found time to shop for Mike’s gifts after finding the house. On Christmas Eve, Jack stayed up late assembling Mike’s toys and it was so exciting for us. I don’t remember what we got one another but it didn’t really matter. It was the first of 38 Christmases together. It was a beginning that led to marriage and commitment and learning to worship God and to tolerate each other’s irritations and quirks while we found connection and lasting loyalty with God’s help. I remember turning off the lights and sitting on the sofa together staring at the halos and singing Christmas carols. We drank our yuletide cheer together and leaned in to each other thinking how lucky we were to have found someone so special. Mike tossed and turned in his sleeping bag wanting Christmas morning to come and end the suspense. He always woke us early over the years so his excitement never waned until he was an adult. I think that year he got the bionic man with the roll up skin on his arm that showed his bionics. I would give Mike art supplies of many types every year, as he was amazingly talented and imaginative. Jack always wanted practical things and appreciated them. Often holding on to them in new condition until he absolutely had to use them. I wanted books, many books and pretty things and I think that year I wanted a freezer. I got that later that next year. Christmas was always a mass of wrapping paper and squealing with Joy. Jack had never had big Christmases over the years and I was one of those “let’s make it into a party”, no matter what … so he let me. He smiled benevolently from the sidelines and got vicarious pleasure from our wishes being fulfilled. I, in years to come, would make a long list and post it on the fridge. I wanted to be surprised and if I had a short list it might not be a proper unveiling. So he would trudge out to get some of the things he could locate on my list. He might have enlisted some of my friends I think to help him and in later years the kids helped and finally a friend and helper did it when he could no longer go shopping alone. I will never think of Christmas without thinking of Jack’s kindness and quiet enjoyment of our traditional fete. We began going to Christmas Eve services when we both started attending Church and it became a wonderful tradition and a time of worship and appreciation for what God had done for us by sending Jesus as a baby to be the Messiah. Our faith grew over time and our love of Church and our church family grew as well. Many years, since 1994 when we moved to Wisconsin, we would have Pastor and his wife and their kids come for a grand evening of celebration near to the 25th. Those times were dear to us as they had become some of our most trusted friends. I think this Christmas without Jack will be special in remembering and sharing with the family our special memories of their dad and my sweet funny husband. I look forward to the coming together of most in Nashville on the 23rd . Not all will be there but 3 of the 4 families and some extras as well. And Mike’s family will be sharing an early Christmas with me at home. I think this Christmas will be special although my heart will miss my mate. I am thankful for what we had and now shall bask in the time that I have with the kids and grand kids. I won’t let him be forgotten in our celebrations. If he could peek in on us I would want him to find us smiling and remembering his laugh and his tears. He would have loved holding the newest baby who arrived just before Thanksgiving. I would want him to see that we carry on in the traditions he and I began in 1973 on our first Christmas together. I read this in my writers group and was a little shaky but when I read it to the family while I was in Nashville I broke down and couldn't finish for a long couple minutes as I was overwhelmed with missing my husband. It gets easier and there is more joy each day but I will always think of Jack with love and miss his special smile and southern drawl. It is inscribed upon my heart.