I used to keep childhood Christmas things, thinking my children would want them someday when they had their own lives, houses, and children. They took a few things, but the rest still resides in my attic. I'm keeping the ornaments my mother made for them when they were little, but I'm giving the rest away to a thrift store so some other family who has a lot of kids but not much money can enjoy them the way my children did when they were small. Sometimes I despair of having had only one child, and the one I inherited from my marriage. Both men now, they have little interest in traditions or family things of the past - they're making their own which is as it should be I suppose, though it's lonely here now. My married stepson has a family now and his wife has so many relatives as does he on his mother's side that his father and I get shuffled to the New Year since too much holiday wears their children out. I understand. Small children get tired so easily and disrupted schedules mean disrupted lives. My son comes for a few days to see his friends, open presents, eat dinner and watch football, then he's gone back to his job up north somewhere to an apartment I've never seen.
I decorate my house alone - my husband cares nothing for Christmas. I do it for me and my sweet father who loved Christmas better than any child ever did or ever will. It's as if he and I spend Christmas silently together as I put up new things I've acquired and the old things they had when they first married and left to me when they said goodbye forever so quickly - too quickly. So I put on Bing Crosby's rendition of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and listen to a man's voice who sounded so much like my father's when he sang, and we reverently spend two days together as I turn my home into the Christmas wonderland he always loved.
Sometimes I wonder what will happen to these few precious things when I'm gone. There are no memories in them for my children. I suppose they'll end up in some landfill or thrift store somewhere, but a small piece of the divine in me hopes there will be some other little girl somewhere who will find my mother's little white plastic church, the one that looks like the church in which they married. It's interior bulb from 1954 lights up the glittering silver roof I've carefully re-glittered over the years, and along with its snowy white candle trees and antique wax choir singers, perhaps it will make her as happy as it did me, and she will hold on to it for the now three and a half decades I have. Maybe one day, when she's 64, I hope she'll still take it out of some treasured box and put it up with memories that are as sweet as the ones it gave to me.
I'll be home for Christmas. You can count on me. Please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me Where the love-light gleams. I'll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams.
Next year, Daddy, I'll dream again, a year older, in a smaller place with less room to put up the Christmas things we love. I hope you and Mama know how beautiful those dreams are. And if I can't find room for but one Christmas thing, the little church light will be on, still waiting for you both to come home.