The winter holidays of “kiddom” * likely conjure up some of your best memories of childhood.
Gathering at the local toboggan hill, you lined up at the top, mounted your trusty sled and raced your buddy to the bottom both seeing if you could break the record for who would go the farthest and the fastest only to run back up and do it again. Or perhaps you both piled onto the same sled, rushing to get your feet in, legs wrapping around legs, pushing yourselves forward with knitted mittens caked with tiny damp snow balls, tumbling sideways off the toboggan as you neared the finish. You would both grab hold of the rope and scramble up the hill again, toboggan in tow.
Making snowmen at morning recess and hoping the big kids didn’t knock it down by lunchtime.
Writing letters to Santa, wondering if he’ll have time to reply and desperately hoping you’d been good enough all year to get your wish which you revealed in confidence to the big man himself.
Excursions to the tree farm to select the perfect specimen to grace your home for the holidays. One worthy enough for the home-made ornaments.
Rushing through dinner so you wouldn’t miss a minute of your favourite holiday classic.
And on Christmas eve, tuning into the radio to listen to the reports from the airforce on where they last spotted an unidentified object flying through the sky which every kid knew without a doubt or hesitation was Santa, then racing off to bed “uncharacteristically early”*.
In our house, as the Christmas cards arrived in the mail, my mother would tape them to the wall behind our dining room table. As the month passed, the collection grew. Bright and cheery images added to the holiday decor. Inevitably, there would be at least one pair of matching cards, sometimes two, and we would make a game out of trying to find the match.
On Saturday mornings, my father would get up early and drive my best friend and I to the local outdoor skating rink, often arriving at 7:00am. (at least that’s how I remember it). The place was vacant. We had the entire rink to ourselves. He would leave us to skate to our hearts content. Where he went, if he even went anywhere, I do not know and never considered until only a few years ago. All I knew was, we were alone, we always felt safe, and we were given the freedom to do what we loved. We would practice our twirls and try to add jumps and would race from one end to the other. My father would arrive to pick us up again just as the official public hours would begin and snack bar would open. We rode home with dreams of olympic glory in our futures; the next Dorothy Hamills.
When my children were small, I began the tradition of giving them one new ornament each year. As we decorated the tree as a family, just before the final one was hung, I would present them with that year’s ornament. My hope is that when the time comes for them to have a tree of their own, to decorate with a family of their own, that they will begin their new lives built on happy memories. Hanging among their shiny new ornaments will / that each ornament they unwrap from their past will recall a happy memory from their childhood days which they can use as a base from which to branch out.
What’s your happiest holiday childhood memory?
* “kiddom” – from A Christmas Story
* “uncharacteristically early” – from Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
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Video Credits: YouTube