Archive for December, 2021

20191224_191546 Originally published in the The Santa Clarita Signal, 2002

Not that I’d ever want to rename Christmas, but I’ve often thought it could be considered a second Memorial Day. After all, isn’t this a day of remembrance?

Spiritually speaking, it certainly is, but even for the staunchest agnostic, Christmas is a day to look back – to remember old friends, lost loves and happy times. Any old holiday can create memories. But Christmas captures them. It holds them fast and preserves them like no other time of year.

Maybe that’s why I find myself in such familiar surroundings today. I’m at my parents’ house, where I’ve spent all but two of my 35 Christmases. Today, I’ll go to church, open presents and eat too much turkey with the people I cherish most.

Like every family, we Dicksons have our traditions. The tree always arrives late and my dad can often be found spending Christmas Eve in the yard, stringing lights in the dark. I usually brave the cold with him, lending a hand where I can and throwing out words of encouragement.

This year’s tree saga was especially memorable. After toting the tree 20 miles on the top of their van, my folks decided to push their luck and stop off at the mall for some last minute shopping.

Halfway into the parking garage, they heard a bang and the tree, which did not clear the overhang, ripped away from its bindings and rolled into the road.

My dad said he considered leaving it where it fell, proclaiming to passers by, “You see that? It’s my last Christmas tree!”

One of my personal traditions consists of sifting through piles of old stuff – newspaper clippings, pictures, letters from friends and a mish-mash of sentimental trinkets I keep in my old room.

I tell my family every year that I’m looking for something I need, but they’re not fooled. They knew before I ever admitted it to myself that that box of odds and ends is, for me, a precious window on the past. They know that in the event of a fire, that box is what I’d carry out first.

I hope this Christmas finds you with a full nest. I hope your home overflows with as much pandemonium as mine no doubt will. Just remember to make your memories good ones because they will last.

And if this Christmas finds you in a lonely place, take heart. Pick some good memories out of your box and dwell on those. They are the presents you wrapped for yourself in years past, for a day such as this.

Blow off the dust and pull off the bows. Tear into the wrapping and savor whatever’s inside.

Let your memories remind you how much things can change.


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