The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Christmas memories - Pt 1
I'm not sure why Christmas is such a strong evoker of memories, but around this time of year, I start feeling nostalgic for the ghosts of Christmas Past. Not that there's anything wrong with the present, but nothing can replace the memories you develop as a child, when you believed in the jolly man with the white beard and red suit.

The first Christmas I can really remember, I was five. I had asked Santa for a doll and doll bed that year. I wanted a doll bed just like the one I'd seen in our nursery school.

There was no big lead up to Christmas in our house. My parents' only decoration was a nativity set that I used to play with as a child would play with dolls and a doll house. My favorite character was the little shepherd boy and his lamb. That nativity set was a staple in our house for many years. If my sister and I were lucky, we'd each be given a glitter-festooned cardboard Advent calendar that had a Bible verse behind each door. That was the extent of our decorations. It's no wonder that the sight of red flocked reindeer and ceramic pixies gets me excited nowadays.

Church was a big part of our lives. My mother was the church organist and my father was on the church business committee. We were there nearly every Sunday, and I couldn't wait for Advent and the lighting of the candles in the Advent wreath, which hung suspended from the church ceiling. Once Advent started, I knew that Christmas wasn't too far away, and I had to be extra special good.

Of course, my sister and I had our photo taken with Santa Claus at the local Sears department store. Department stores were really different back then. They had mezzanines and much smaller stock areas, which made them feel a lot more cozy than the steel and glass boxes that pass for department stores today. Some of them had elevators with expandable gates and men who would ask you which floor you wanted to go to. Shopping was so much more personal.

That first Christmas of my memory was filled with much anticipation, as I was old enough to understand the concept of Santa Claus. In our house, Santa did everything: brought the tree - all decorated with lights and baubles, filled the stockings, and brought the presents for under the tree. It was truly magical with everything appearing nearly overnight.

I got my doll and doll bed and remember feeling so excited! Nothing can compare with the magic of believing and then getting what you want when you're a kid. As an adult, I try to re-create that feeling in the way I decorate my house and in the enthusiasm that I have for one of the most beautiful (to me) holidays. Even though I am no longer an avid church goer, the message of "Peace, Love, and Joy" reverberates within me and will stay with me forever.


posted by Melanie O. at 4:11 PM -
  • At 5:14 PM, Blogger Kanani said…

    I saw my friend today, who is single and older. I invited her to the house. She thanked me but said "no." Apparently she and her other older single friends were all getting together and having simple meal, then going to see the movie "Atonement" on Xmas day.

    In a way, she's released from all the ghosts of Xmas past, the ones that tell you what you should be doing or feeling, rather than it being what you'd prefer to do. That is, having a simple meal with people you really are enthusiastic about, then doing something out of the ordinary that you're looking forward to. I now I've had loads of "let's get through this" Xmas's.

    I liked the story of your Xmas decor. I know that you decorate elaborately now, so it all makes sense! We always had a fully decorated house and zillions of home made cookies. And frankly, I'm rather burned out by it all!

    So someday, I'll sneak to a movie on Christmas day, gab with my girlfriends and have a ball.

  • At 8:28 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Kanani - I hope that you get to have the Christmas of your dreams!

    Ours was low key but lovely. I only wish that my sons had been here to share it - but then maybe it wouldn't have been as stress-free. Everything's a tradeoff, it seems.

  • At 2:29 AM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    I guess We did good in giving you and your sister special memories at Christmas. I credit my mom and dad. They did the same thing for me...hid everything until the kids were in bed Christmas eve. Then in the morning, ...magic. I am so glad I had those experiences in my own childhood and in your childhood. Now there is no point in repeating the pattern where there are no young children around. A different decade, a different answer to the holiday. I will be traveling out of the country next year with girlfriends or on a tour. I expect to enjoy it very much.

  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hmmm... since you ladies are up for travel in December, I know a place where you can have a great Christmas dinner in the Aussie countryside...

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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