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My Ghosts of Christmases Past

Do you ever “see” the ghosts of your Christmases past? 

Dec 19 Ghosts of Christmas Pauline Baird Jones ARDo you ever “see” the ghosts of your Christmases past? 

As part of my “Adventure in Wyoming,” I’ve stirred up a lot of ghosts. Thankfully, I’m not Scrooge, so they seem to be benign. But there is something about Christmas that really brings out the memories – the good, the bad, even the crazy. 

I grew up in a family of six kids. I’m sure we drove our parents crazy a lot. Like most days. haha But we used to ramp it up at Christmas. And we started that ramping well before November, probably around the time the Christmas catalogs arrived. (Mom tells us now that she used to hide them if she managed to get to them first. She was no slouch in trying to stay ahead of her herd.)

We’d each get our turn at those magical pages, filled with things we didn’t know existed. But the magic tripled as the Big Day approached. I can see mini me the last day of school. The local theater showed a Christmas movie on their one screen and then Santa would run in and hand out little bags of nuts and candy to all of us. Lots of crazy there.

The chill in the air now, brings back what it felt like to march from the school to the theater with our breath puffing out in a white fog. It was cold, but excitement kept us warm. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be an adult trying to contain that much concentrated frenzy. We’d all be feeding off of each other, too. There’s probably an equation for that. Or an app.

And then it was time to go home. No school to give mom a break. Just six kids in a fairly small house counting down to Christmas. 

And then finally, it arrived. 

Christmas Eve. 

Santa sighting reports on the news. Trips over the river and sort of through the woods to the Grandmas’ houses. The ceremonial reading of the various Christmas books. Dad reading the Christmas story from the Bible. Christmas cake and hot chocolate. New pajamas so we’d look good in the pictures in the morning.

I can see the ghost of me wriggling in my spot as the we’d do the things we always did for our Christmas Eve. And then off to bed to not sleep. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I think I actually fell asleep maybe every other year? Most of the time we were up all night. One year, or possibly two, the parents caved at about four a.m. We had viewed our Santa gifts and opened our presents by five a.m. and were finally asleep by six. Lol

What would that younger me say to grown-up me, I wonder? Even though I was that little girl, I’m not sure I can go back and be me enough to know. I’ve lived too long and gone too far from her. But she might, just might tell me not to get so far from her that I forget the magic that is Christmas. 

The reality of then and now is that neither was perfect. One year we all got the stomach flu and had to take turns hurling in the ONE bathroom. Life isn’t perfect but the magic is still there if we have eyes to see, if we let it into our hearts. It’s not the same, but it can be just as good.

If the ghost of someone, or a younger you, showed up in the night, what would they say to you?Perilously yours,