Keeping Christmas Past

They had to go.

It was decided.

They were going this year.

I had made up my mind.

This Christmas, they would be gone!

I opened the boxes with intention and determination, “I think I can.  I think I can.  I know I can.  I know I will.  I will get rid of all the shabby Christmas decorations that have been tacky-ing up my house for years!”

14429_10202304693853458_2048813881092403137_nThe elves, slightly creepy pixie dolls with no hands or feet that my husband and I bought 20 years ago when “cheap” made everything attractive, . . .  they were outta here.

The Old World Santa who ditched the reindeer, chucked his sleigh and chose to travel through our Christmas decor in a metal steam boat, . . . I was sending him and his sorry excuse for enchanted transit to the Salvation Army.

The horribly mismatched stockings, the stuffed Santa bear that no longer plays music when you squeeze its paws, the Christmas potholders we use for coasters because they are so pitifully small, . . . they were all about to be replaced.

Even the faded and frayed Santa left from my childhood, whose plastic face falls off when he topples over was destined to disappear in a corner of the attic.

I pulled all those things out of our Christmas storage boxes.  And I looked at them one last time.

10801885_10202304937139540_691833365555225232_nThat act was my mistake . . . and the death of my intentions.

As I held those ratty, old decorations, I caught sight of the memories that are attached to them. Those memories stop me from pitching the tacky things every year.

The elves . . . they joined our Christmases when our children were young.   They were new and exciting {and still a little creepy} and our kids thought they were wonderful.  How do you get rid of your children’s wonderment?

The mismatched stockings have laid by our fireplace every Christmas morning since we became a family.  Even empty of candy and toys, they overflow with the anticipation of Christmas surprises.  How can new stockings that have never felt my kids’ hands digging deep into their toes replace the old ones?

10570258_10202304693893459_1755659250946157677_nWhen our oldest daughter was a child, she spent hours making the potholders/coasters.  To throw them away would be to throw away her concentration over the little, plastic loom, her determination to correctly weave them into a pattern and her pride in the imperfect product.  How does any mother with half a heart do that?

And the faded, frayed Santa whose face tends to fall off has definitely lived past his time.  But he came from my first life, the one in which my mother and father were alive and I was a child awed by the magic of Christmas.  He will keep his place of prominence on the mantle in our living room.

So, it is true that these storage boxes contain slightly tacky Christmas decorations.  But they are my family’s slightly tacky Christmas decorations.

And, evidently, they are not going anywhere.



The memories most endearing

No matter where we roam

Are those of Christmas past

In a place we knew as home.



When Santa and I were new

The magic of the season

With scent of wax and pine,

The aroma from the kitchen

That beckoned us to dine.


The dancing lights upon the tree

That cast their Yuletide spell,

The joyous song of carolers

Singing “Peace on earth, Noel!”


The ghosts of cherished loved ones;

They live and always will,

For no one ever dies in

The place where time stands still.


The treasured scenes of yesteryear,

Could prayer but make them last.

Traditions of the heart live on

In dreams of Christmas past.

 —C. David Hay


My mom and I – Christmas, 1963


My dad, my little brother and I – Christmas, 1963

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