Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

I got the rare opportunity the other night to sit in a chair with both of my boys. It is not that rare that I get the sit in a chair and be still but most of you that read this know it is rare that they are ever still. I had a long day at work and all that I really wanted to do was sit still and be quiet. Billy wanted to watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town. They both climbed up in my lap and started watching.
It is funny how a memory will slip up on you when you are least expecting it. I think that I heard Ben say that smell is the one thing that triggers memory more that any other thing. I remembered clearly sitting on the couch with my mother and watching this very same movie. I was near Billy’s age. This was before the age of video and cable. This was before there was a channel 21 so all we had was 4 channels, 6, 13, 42, and as an absolute last resort 10. The Rankin/Bass productions would only come on once a year. This meant that you could only watch them once. My mother was very good about making sure I got to see them. I remember crying when she said that we would have to wait till next year to see them again. I can remember the smell of the cigarettes that my mother smoked. I can remember how warm she was as I got really close to her when the Winter Warlock was going to get Kris Kringle. This memory came to me in an instant as I sat with my own children watching the same movie on crystal cleat DVD but I could imagine the grainy reception we got from our foil covered rabbit ears.
I started getting a little choked up. I told Billy that I remembered watching this movie with my mother when I was his age. He said, “Yeah, I remember that too.” He knows that my mother died and went to heaven. Sometimes when I am telling him about her he will tell me that he misses her too. I believe that he and James Robert would have liked her too. She was the glue that held Christmas together for my family. I did not realize until much, much later that she very intentional in the way she was creating these memories for me. I took so much for granted as a silly little kid.
Every good and lasting memory that I have of Christmas as a boy is wrapped around the love that she had for me. She would sing these carols to me in her smoky voice. I got my voice from her. When I am reading to the boys I hear her voice coming out of me.
Her last Christmas was a good one. The cancer that would kill her six months later would not take it’s last swing at her until January. Her mind was sharp and she was beautiful that Christmas. Her children were married and my nephews were on the downhill side of high school. She was still trying to make memories that none of us would really appreciate until we had a Christmas without her.
I say all of that trying to get to something that I think is really important. For me anyway. If you are surrounded by people that you love make those memories. I hope that Billy can remember one day when his hair is starting to go gray sitting in a chair with his brother and his father watching a movie. These memories are part of who he is and the man that he is. The love that I am trying to give him and James Robert is something that is passed down. I hope that they do not take for granted these memories that we are trying to make. If they can remember only half of the love that I have for them then their treasure chest will be overflowing.


Kristi said...

That made me cry. But the Billy parts made me laugh. Joseph, you're the best. I wont say that much, but it's totally true! :)

Jamie said...

I am in an airplane in Denver waiting to get on another plane, when I read this. The gentleman next to me who speaks little English is wondering why I am tearing up. He probably thinks my next plane is delayed....