During the Christmas season I turn into a slightly maudlin woman, one who gets teary-eyed watching any commercial featuring small children and pets. My children roll their eyes when I start to talk about how cute they were when they were little as I drag out the old photo albums from the closet. They sigh heavily when I get out the handmade Christmas decorations they made in elementary school. And they ask me, “Mom, what do you want for Christmas besides “whirled peas?”
When our son was about three, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Being the sentimental person that I am during the holidays, I replied “world peace.” Ryan got the most confounded look on his face and he asked, “Mommy, why do you want whirled peas?” So his innocent confusion to my response has become a traditional question for my kids to ask me every year at Christmas. I know “whirled peas” is a very lofty ideal to ask for, but it is a worthy aspiration. Who knows, it may become a reality someday.
The year my in-laws retired we drove to Florida to spend Christmas with them. My husband transformed a small bus into a motor home and that Christmas trip was its maiden voyage. The kids (ages six and three) left Santa cookies along with a note on the kitchen table with directions on how to find us in Florida. Believe me, it was no small accomplishment to find space for our clothing and food, plus a small, live Christmas tree and gifts in that little bus and to hide them from the children. I’ll never forget how excited the kids were when they woke up on Christmas day to realize that Santa had found them in Florida!
I have some very fuzzy memories of a beautiful bride doll one Christmas. I was about five years old and in the hospital with pneumonia . . . again. It was pretty serious because the priest was called to administer the Last Rites to me. I can only begin to imagine the anguish my parents must have gone through. But I do recall my Mom telling me that if I got better she would buy me this exquisite bride doll I had been yearning. Fortunately, the fervent prayers of my parents were answered. And to this day I can recall opening my eyes to see that lovely bride doll at the foot of my hospital bed, slightly blurred as I looked through the translucent oxygen tent surrounding me.
One of my cherished relics from the 1970’s is a wooden “peace” necklace. I wear it on occasion and it usually becomes a topic of conversation, especially the way it was acquired. My husband was working at a grocery store then. A young man he knew was down on his luck and asked my husband for a loan to buy milk, bread and a few other staples. My husband noticed that the young man was wearing this wooden peace sign necklace. He said he would not loan him any money, but he would purchase that peace sign from him. So the exchange was made. I like to think that my husband helped that young man retain some dignity in that bartered deal. I consider that wooden necklace a reminder that even in hard times, we can find a way to help one another.
Our lives are the sum of our memories-- the times we have experienced, good and otherwise. So I am hoping that there will be some wonderful memories made during this season of joy and giving. I hope every little girl gets the bride doll she longs for and that Santa finds everyone, even if they are on vacation. As for me, I am still hoping for “whirled peas” to go along with my wooden peace sign necklace.