Family: Finding the gifts of the season under the stairs

For 11 months of the year my Christmas decorations live in a humble abode of cardboard boxes shoved haphazardly under the stairs.

Once again, out of sight, out of mind!

But, on the 12th month things change.

These decorations and pictures become the focal point of my home.

They are proudly displayed as if they are treasures worth more than the jewels.

And they are.

In fact, the other day when I couldn’t find a dog-eared, faded picture of my children sitting on Santa’s knee, I, as the kids say, freaked out. I always put that picture on the piano at Christmas, but not before I look at it, do a little walk down memory lane, give them all a kiss and run to show my husband, “Awl, look, here’s the kids when they were little. Oh my gosh, aren’t they so sweet.”

My husband looks at the picture, agreed, and satisfied with his response, I reverently place the picture on the piano, decide the piano probably needs dusting and get on with stuff.

It’s a funny thing about Christmas.

The season of today; of to do lists and responsibilities and taking care of business is hugely important.

There truly is not a lot of time to go trotting down memory lane and live in the moments of ‘remember when.’

But even when you hurry about doing this, that and the other thing, I think it is truly awesome that these little ghosts of Christmas past show up, unexpectedly, like little unwrapped gifts.

No doubt, Christmas can be a terribly poignant and sad time for many people, but even the sadness for some reason, seems to be tinged with unexpected moments of joy.

Not so long ago, even as I visited my husband in a hospital ward Christmas Eve,

I could hear the sound of carolers in the hallways and I am, to this day, grateful to those singing strangers.

And later that night, I shared a Christmas drink with my son-in-law in a quiet, still living room lighted only by the twinkling Christmas tree lights while he wrapped last minute gifts for his children.

The movie, It’s A Beautiful Life,’ played quietly in the background.

For me, it was like being in the eye of the storm and a gentle reminder that it truly is a wonderful life.

This year, the days of December loom before us and, in our family, as I’m sure as in most families, the days are already getting eaten up with lots of things going on.

In our family, sprinkled rather wonderfully among the December days, are all these birthdays that have come along throughout the years to add a few more branches to the family tree.

The first birthday was celebrated December 1 and from then on as December marches on like so many little tin soldiers whose sole purpose is to get to December 25 as quickly as possible, the days are sprinkled with many other birthdays.

It’s all fun and more reason to celebrate and get busy living in the now.

But, oh, for a brief moment in time when no one is looking and no one really knows, it is quite magical to slip back in time and remember when.

It truly is like unwrapped gifts that no one else can see, or really even needs to know about.

In only a matter of a few short weeks the Christmas decorations will go back to their humble abode of cardboard boxes shoved under the stairs.

But, every time they get packed away for the year, another memory, another happy Christmas memory will go with them.

It truly is a wonderful life!

Treena Mielke lives in Sylvan Lake. She is the editor of the Rimbey Review.

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