By Darlena Surbaugh
I am sitting in the midst of the remains of our most recent Christmas Past, boxes stacked in the corners, tinsel imbedded in the fringes of the decorative rugs and the soft scent of pine emanating from the bedraggled tree downstairs.
Christmas Day has been over now for about 10 days, and the time has come to pack it away for another year. As a child, I would start to count the days after Christmas, not wanting the season to end; one day, two days up to 30. I then would let it go and reassure myself of its eventual return in a mere 11 months.
Christmas time evokes a plethora of memories for almost everyone. Most have sweetened with age, and some I recall with great sadness.
The Christmases of my childhood were nowhere near as abundant as those today. There were no tins filled with beautiful cookies and delicate gold flecked candies filling the kitchen counters and spilling from refrigerated pans. My mother prepared a spice cake filled with multicolored gumdrops and a single pumpkin pie for Christmas Day.
The long staircase to my room was without the fresh pine, ice frosted berries and branches, twinkly lights and silver and gold ribbon. My childhood home had only one tree, not the four that grace the four corners of our home today. It was a fresh white pine, set up by a neighbor for my two sisters and me to enjoy. The decorations were mostly mercury glass worn from years of use. Storage boxes were brought up from the basement with the smell of articles packed for storage and years of dried pine needles collecting in the bottom. I thought our tree was the most beautiful site I had ever seen; I would turn off all the lights and gaze at it for hours.
My mother also had a standard for decorating. The outside was done two weeks before Christmas. The tree was done one week before, and it was all taken down by New Year's Day. There was no mention of Christmas before Thanksgiving Day, and certainly not until Santa had shown his face at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!
There were no DVDs and Christmas radio or television stations to play from the day after Halloween. Conversely, we would eagerly await the holiday specials of Andy Williams, Charlie Brown and Rudolph; none of which were in color. It was exciting to wait and watch, enjoying the reality that Christmas was indeed here at last.