Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

The Spirit of Christmas Past

Every year my family looks forward to the Christmas flop. You see, no matter how hard I try to have the perfect dinner and most beautiful house, my inner Martha Stewart gets eaten alive by snark-filled reality. And the reality is, I ain’t very creative. When I was younger, that upset me. Now, I sit back, relax and watch as my plans unravel. I’d like to think this change was brought about by maturity, but honestly, it’s because I discovered wine.

Last year, I think the only thing that went wrong was a batch of fudge. So far this year, (and we still have 5 days to go!) the silver bell sugar cookies aren’t bright and shiny. They look like something Quasimodo would’ve rung–dark and Gothic. The Christmas tree cookies look like they have a bad case of the measles–the swirls are big blobs of green. Remember my question about creepy gingerbread men? I thought they might be freaking me out because they were dancing naked on my kitchen table–apparently, they discovered the beauty of wine as well. So, I decided to dress them. White and red frosting in hand, I painted on faces. As I added clothing, several of them insisted on fancier fare than the lovely gumdrop buttons. Who am I to deny them their voice? It turns out that most of my gingerbread men are cross dressers.

Since my cooking exploits weren’t going so well, I turned my attention to decorations. Years ago, Ma and I came home to the loveliest of sights. Pops had gone into the woods and cut down some cedars and made a beautiful swag to put over the windows in the living room. It was breathtaking. Of course, it took Pops about 20 minutes to do the entire endeavor, but it takes me hours. I wasn’t going to do it this year. It’s really pretty, but it’s messy and time consuming.

As I cook and play Mrs. Claus, I listen to music. I had the iPod on shuffle and I was bustling around the house getting nothing accomplished, but looking really busy, when the hymn In the Garden started playing. Time stopped. I collapsed on the couch and burst into tears as every word of the song filled the living room. It was as if the room grew to double its size in order to contain the music. It was so rich, melodic, fulfilling. As I sat there sobbing, I nodded my head and said, “Got it, Pops.” The song ended. I blew my nose and grabbed the loppers. It was time for a walk in the woods.

In the Garden was Pop’s favorite hymn and we played it at his funeral. Talk about a message from beyond. I can’t tell you how happy I was lopping off cedar branches and hauling them to my house. It was a lovely day. The dogs gathered around as I tied boughs together on the deck. I broke out in a rash and I can’t breathe because I’m allergic to cedar, but I don’t care.

My house is literally filled with the spirit of Christmas.

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Comments on: "The Spirit of Christmas Past" (24)

  1. You. Not your house. You are filled with the spirit of Christmas every darned day of the year. It hides behind that hedge of snark, but the light shines through, bright and cyrstal clear.

  2. You have such a gift of blending tender, heart-warming moments with just the right amount of humor to make us smile through the tears. Oh, and that’s not to mention your gift of decorating and baking. 🙂

  3. I shouldn’t have read your blog about the song and Pops at work! I’m missing my Pops this season! Love you cuz!

    • Sherrolyn, I was thinking of you while I was writing the post. The first Christmas is rough. You know our dads are in heaven fishing, right? They’re getting a mess of fish together for Grandma to fry up for dinner. Just think how wonderful their heavenly home smells. Our dads are baking pies and Grandma is making bread. Love you. Big hugs!

  4. Stop it! Stop it! You keep making me cry! How beautiful. What a message from Heaven that was! It is proof that your daddy is watching over you every day. Even in Heaven, he can still give you gifts. Gifts that count and make for a better life.
    Feel his arms around you, because they are.

    • Linda, Mama came up to help me hang the swag last night. I couldn’t tell her the story without crying so I waited until today. As soon as I said the words: In the Garden, she burst into tears. She said. “His spirit is in us all the time.” That was radical coming from my literal Mama, but so very true.

  5. What a beautiful post. The memories are swirling so thick I have to swat them away with a ball bat. My parents (especially Dad) loved to make Christmas candies. Mom made coconut bon-bons, fudge, and divinity and Dad would make peanut brittle and popcorn balls.

    “In the Garden” is one of my favorites too. Thanks for the message from beyond the snark side.

    • Thanks, Russell. My dad’s specialties were bread (unbelievably light and fluffy) and coconut cream pie–so big we called them casseroles. To this day I can’t look at a coconut without getting all weepy. I’d love to hear you play “In the Garden” sometime. I promise I won’t drown you in tears.

  6. Patty, what would our writing world, our friendship world be like without you in it? You make us feel brighter, more compassionate and you tickle our funny bone while doing it. Your Christmas is going to be very merry. Those we love who have gone on certainly do look down on us. Of this I’m convinced. Love you.

    • Thanks, Velda. I really thought I’d be feeling Daddy more than I do. When I pondered it, I realized he didn’t say much–wasn’t much of a talker. Family legend is that he used to be a real chatty Kathy until I was born and he never had another chance to talk. But, when he did say something, it was meaningful. So, when he sends a message, there’s no doubt it’s from him. Merry Christmas! Love you too!

  7. Pam Clemens said:

    Okay, now you have to come to my house to do the cookies! Ours did not turn out like yours!

  8. Looks pretty creative to me!

  9. Madison Woods said:

    I’m glad you got to experience that visit from your dad! And just so you know, it doesn’t matter how many coats of snark-veneer you add, your inner shine will make it through.

  10. A heartfelt moment and tears. Ever so healing. Thank you for sharing the touching moment. As for the extra thick snarky-veneer- God gives us what we need, not always what we want, and either way, I think you’ll do just fine. 🙂

  11. OMG! This is fantastic. What a great post. I love your cookies, the gingerbread men, the trees, light, ornaments and the witty, humorous way you write! But most of all I love that Pops said Merry Christmas!

  12. Lovely post throughout. I particularly like the gingerbread cross dressers. And your dad’s memory coming on you like that–thanks for sharing.

    • Ruby, the gingerbread men are stunning! Who knew a ginger could wear bright red so well? Don’t even get me started on the shoes! Nothing sensible to be found.

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