As I untie the ribbon on the first layer, childhood memories appear like 3D images captured in time...me hanging my favourite glass bauble on the Tree...it is white and pink and shaped like an icicle. I carefully and lovingly hang my delicate ornament on the tree...year after year... until I see it crash to the floor and splinter into a million glass fragments. I grieved over that ornament, and still all these years later I can still recall the simple pleasure I had in hanging it on the tree. Our tree is pine and the scent of pine refreshes and cleanses our home. We would fill a bucket with wet sand and my Dad would lift the tree and place it in...then my brother and I would wrap the bucket with Christmas paper and tinsel.
I see my Dad with his cheeky grin and flushed cheeks switch on the multi-coloured lights and then...get out his trumpet. He was a beautiful trumpeter and every year at Christmas, out came the trumpet and he would play, filling our home, and street, with his music. I loved watching my Dad play his trumpet, it seemed to take him to his happy place.
The first layer is done and now it is time for me to unwrap a little further. I hear laughter and squeals and then I see my brother and sisters and cousins with water pistols all running around the yard and through the house with water flying everywhere! Suddenly my Dad and cousin Doug take it up a notch with buckets and then the hose as they.hide around corners catching us unawares.
What is it about Christmas that teases out old memories and wraps them up in a sweet golden hue? These memories defy time and space...they are my own personal Tardis!
Even then, those many years ago, when my children were small, there were spaces in the world, empty spaces where loved people should have been. Time was catching up and my childhood was gone. I can see a space where my brother should have been, and one for my Grandfather and my Father. There were Aunty and Uncle spaces and then my Grandmother's space. And now...too many spaces...but still the joy and wonder of Christmas catches me unawares and I am lost in beauty and imagination.
Christmas is warm. It is carols by candlelight. It is walking on warm Summer nights to look at the Christmas lights and watch people smiling for no particular reason. Christmas is my memories and the echoes of times long past. It is helping my Grandmother to chop fruit for the Christmas cake and eating Christmas pudding and hoping to be the person who gets the silver sixpence (she kept her sixpences long after we had changed to metric). It is spending time with my Sydney cousins in Terrigal and getting sunburned at the beach...all these memories make me smile and I am so thankful for them.
Christmas does play tricks with my mind...expectations are not the reality...there is a huge gap between my imagination, memories and expectations of the event. And, when I stop to think about this...I believe it is because my treacherous mind wants to give me a holiday! A gentle space to remember people and places and laughter and music. A space to re-believe that the world is good and that there will be Peace on Earth...one day...
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him'