For my writer's group tomorrow we were set a task to write something about Christmas - a memory, a poem, a treasured story or a fictional piece...whatever we felt like writing about Christmas. This week I have read a lot of stories about people preparing for Christmas day and sharing their new and old traditions, and it brought back memories of cracking nuts with a hammer on the back steps, spitting watermelon seeds with my cousins to see who could spit the farthest, searching for Santa in the sky on Christmas eve, and my mum putting up our silver Christmas tree with the faded angel at the top.
I always breath a huge sigh of relief when November passes into December. November is certainly not my favourite month of the year. Sometime during November, on a date nineteen years ago which my mind refuses to remember, I lost my mum. She was 45 and died in her sleep...just like that her number was up.
So, she has been in my thoughts a lot lately and this is what I wrote:
I miss the sunshine of your auburn hair,
your pale smooth skin, the way you cared.
I miss your voice, your country drawl,
the way you walked in heels so tall.
I miss your presents with fancy bows
and elegant wrapping, just like your clothes.
I miss the warmth of your lipstick-pink smile,
your soft brown freckles, and large hazel eyes.
I miss your hugs and soft words of advice,
your charming inability to tell left from right.
I miss your humour, the same one as mine,
when I look at your grandchildren every time,
It's sad they never knew you Nanna Kerrie,
because my memories of you are sometimes blurry.
For nineteen years we have missed you here,
especially around this time of year.
We all think of you on Christmas Day,
when I serve "wake-up croissants" just the same way
With leg ham and cheese all melted inside,
This one little tradition will always preside.
You are here in our hearts, not far from our minds,
in each of my children...time after time.
My kids grew up without their Grandmother and when they were old enough to talk about her I came up with the title of Nanna Kerrie. It was tradition in our house that our grandmothers were called Nanna followed by their surname. We had Nanna Steele and Nanna Howard. Somehow I think she would have liked being called Nanna Kerrie, using her first name, breaking with tradition, and her last name wasn't her own when she died anyway.
This is not meant to be a sad post. It's a tribute to my mum, the ghost of Christmas past, reminding me that Christmas is a special time for families. The memories and traditions we create for our children will be honoured when they are parents and grandparents. I can see my kids and theirs making those "wake up croissants" for many generations to come.
Do you think of loved ones lost at Christmas time? What do you remember about your childhood Christmas's?