Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Treasures of Christmas past

My favorite memory and memento of Christmas are my copies of Rudolph and The Night Before Christmas. Rudolf is about 12x14" big and it used to be flocked -- Rudy's nose was fuzzy as was the trim on Santa's coat. Not any more -- it's mostly worn away. I remember when my mother brought home this flimsy paperback book. She probably got it at the dime store, but it seemed fascinating to see a song on paper.

The Night Before Christmas is equally flimsy now from repeated reading. We would gather around as a family and my parents would read the story to us on Christmas Eve. The book (larger than the other, about 12x16) sat in a place of honor with Rudolph on top of the TV (where nothing was allowed to sit lest it leak, spill, or otherwise mar the surface). The pages got torn and were repaired with tape which is cracked and yellowing now.

When Mom moved into her townhouse, she sorted through the Christmas stuff and gave us each a box of goodies. I got the books (of course) as well as some other ornaments. I keep the books carefully stored in plastic wrappers throughout the year but at Christmas they come out to sit on my sofa table in a place of honor next to the ugly Lee Wards ornament I made in junior high (you know the one -- a styrofoam egg with beads poked into it and some ribbon around the faux velvet covering).

Every year I read the Christmas books and it feels like I'm back there in that little brick house where 5 of us shared one bathroom the size of a closet, we had one TV (and 3 TV stations) and we all managed to grow up without killing each other (how did we do it?). It's been 10 years since my dad died, but I can still hear his voice as he says, "Dash away, dash away, dash away all".

As Maggie said, sometimes the best memories are the least expensive. Those 'throwaway' five-and-dime Christmas books, so flimsy and not meant to last, contain some of the best memories I have. I plan to give them to my niece when her children are old enough to start making memories.

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