The holiday season is always a time of celebration - but sadly also when we share a very real sense of sadness - either for those who are no longer with us or too far away to share the celebrations with us.
One favorite Eliters, crittermilker was kind enough to share his memories with us (while he anxiously awaits the birth of his first child and works on getting himself healed). For those of us who were lucky enough to know Byron, these memories have a special place in our hearts.
Let the Lights Shine In
On the farm where I grew up, we had a large pine tree in the front yard. Mom and Dad planted it when they bought the place. For a long time, it was small enough for Dad to play with it and decorate it in multi-colored lights and a few large ornaments. I was sort of a late baby as they had been married for 7 years before I came along. When I was a toddler, he would have me help him hang those large plastic colored balls. Some of my best memories are of him holding me up to the tree to hang them and it was soooo cold, but Mom had hot chocolate waiting for her "big" guy and for Dad too. *lol*
As I got bigger so did the tree. By the time I was in Jr. High, we had to use a tall ladder. By the time I was in high school, the plastic ornaments were no more, but there were still boxes and boxes of lights to string on it. The first year of college when I came home for Thanksgiving, Dad was waiting with the old boxes and as with everything, of course we had to add more. The second year of college, I sneaked home on a weekend when Mom had told me Dad was going to be in Nebraska, and I pulled those boxes out and grabbed a couple of friends to help me and we strung lights all that Saturday and still couldnt get to the top of the tree. I had to leave Sunday, but couldnt wait for Tuesday which was the last day of classes before the break so I could rush home to see Dads reaction. Dad was glowering at me when I got home. For 20 years (almost, I was a very small baby the first year :->) it had been him and me out there and I had upset his apple cart. The next year, he and I had to ask a friend and his crane over to help to string the lights because Dad wanted the lights done right. The last year of college was the same. I am happy to say that there were many years we did the lower and had help on the upper reaches.
Always there was laughter and Mom's hot chocolate.
A couple of years ago, after Dad passed on, I decided I would do what I could and to heck with the rest. When I lugged out boxes this time, I actually read what was written on them besides the XMAS in Marksalot ink on them. The oldest and dustiest boxes where from when I was that toddler hanging the plastic ornaments and Dad had written "Lennie age 2" and there was "Lennie age 4" etc. Taped to the inside of each box was a picture of the two of us decorating that pine tree that Mom had taken that I had never been aware of her doing it. By this time, I was in tears and couldnt face doing a blasted thing with that tree. The next day, I hauled my sorry self out to the tree and strung lights till me and my ladder couldnt go any higher. Dads friend Will with the crane came by and told me Dad had asked him to come by and see if I was going to decorate the tree and did I want his help? YouBetCha!! We finished the tree and talked about Dad and he told me funny stories and I showed him the pictures in the boxes and pointed out the legends on the boxes and we both were smiling through tears and I made him come in for hot chocolate and we had a great visit. I will continue to decorate that tree until I cant afford the people that do it now for me as the tree is taller than our 2 story house. I have the lights in new boxes also and am saving the old ones just because. When I die, I am sure whoever cleans out the place will wonder why I saved empty, old, dusty, ragged boxes, but I know. I can look at those boxes anytime and feel the joy of the Christmas season and the love of two very special people.
Happy Thanksgiving and an early Merry Christmas to us all!
Lennie and (an overdue) Judith