What is your favourite holiday memory?
There are two things that come to mind when I think of my childhood during Christmas: crafts and church.
I LOVED doing Christmas crafts at school. I made an angel ornament/tree topper when I was in kindergarten. My mom kept it for years at my request of course. Slowly the pink construction paper faded to grey, the edges ripped, and most of the yarn hair fell out. Yet each Christmas I opened our holiday decoration box with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to pull out my angel. Every year my mother would set up our fake tree and I would take out all of my misfit homemade ornaments – the favourite angel (see above illustration); the chipped baked snowman that was dropped one too many times; the crayola marker-coloured paper gingerbread boy that I had to de-crumple before it could be hung. I remember my mom baking marble cake and macaroons while we listened to Crystal Gayle sing “Silver Bells” on our record player.
I forgot about my crazy collection of childhood ornaments until I reflected on what I have done with my own children in Decembers past.
In fact, that was today’s family advent activity – do a Christmas craft together. We made Christmas stars to brighten up the house. The youngest one had never made one by himself and this year he was able to do it…
During the toddler years of my youngest child, we made homemade felt ornaments for the tree. There was nothing breakable. From a simplest solstice ornament of a round yellow sun to a stuffed little gingerbread boy with buttons, we made all of the ornaments out of felt. It was a sparse tree but we made each ornament with love. Some were misshapen and sewn loosely with the stuffing peeking out but they reminded me of that rag-tag bunch I had made when I was a child.
My other favourite memory was of midnight mass. I have a large extended family and we would all go to midnight mass together at a large church downtown. I remember hoping to hear my favourite Christmas carols – O Holy Night and Angels We Have Heard On High. My grandmother had a navy blue faux fur coat. I would slowly lay my head on my lap and sink deeply into sleep. This was the only time of year that she let me fall asleep during mass. She would stroke my head as I heard “Glo-o-o-o-ria” fade into the background. She wore this red lipstick that came in a gold case. As I would drift to sleep, I would look up at her and see her bright red lips moving in prayer.
I wonder what my children remember. I wonder what they will look back on as their favourite memories. Will it be our crafting days? Will it be our prayers as we light the candles of Advent or those with family on Christmas? Will they remember a favourite ornament of their making? What memories will they turn over and over again?