Monday, December 6, 2010

My First Christmas Memory

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“There he goes! Look at those reindeer fly!” His strong right arm balanced the little girl with soot-colored curls on his hip as he stretched out his other arm and pointed upward into the wintry night sky.

Her eyes widened with wonder and searched every nook and cranny of the star-laden blanket of black. She shook her head, her curls bouncing with the movement, the icy cold air biting her nose.

“You don’t see it?” he asked in disbelief.

She shook her head again and tipped her tiny finger to the edge of her mouth, worried that she’d missed something so very important.

Her daddy took her hand and held it between his two fingers. “What did Granny say about puttin’ your fingers in your mouth, Tessy?”

One front tooth already missing, she whistled just a bit when she spoke. “Ladies don’t put their fingers in their mouth.”

“That’s right. That’s my good girl. Now, look up again. I can hear him, can’t you?”

This time, her mouth formed a huge O as she craned her neck and looked toward the sky once more. A nervous flutter swirled in her stomach. She couldn’t hear or see Santa. Maybe only big people could.

Her daddy grinned and jostled her on his hip. “Those reindeer are really fast. Ole Santy’s a streakin’ through the sky so he’s hard to see, but you should be able to hear him. Try doin’ this,” he said, his eyes bright with laughter as he cupped his free hand to his ear.

Tessy placed her hand to her ear, mostly covering it up rather than helping her to hear anything. No, she couldn’t hear Santa. But her daddy heard him, and she didn’t want to disappoint her daddy, now did she? She grinned that one-tooth-missing smile of hers, threw her hands up in the air, and giggled. “I hear him! I hear him!”

“Do you see him, too?” Daddy asked.

“Uh huh.” She nodded, almost certain she did see and hear Santa now.

“You do? Well, what’s he sayin’?

Tessy thought a moment then tucked her chin into her chest and made the Santa face her daddy had been showing off for days. And in her best Santa voice, she said, “Ho Ho Ho, Murry Kissmuss!”

I think my daddy must have told that story a couple of thousand times before he left this world to move on to the next. I take great comfort in knowing that the memory was just as special to him as it still is to me. It was Christmas Eve and for some odd reason, my parents decided that I’d get all my Christmas goodies under the tree that night instead of the next morning. They may have wanted to sleep late for all I know. LOL

So while Mama and Granny were getting the gifts ready and putting them under the tree, Daddy took me for a drive. I was six at the time and my sister only three. So Sis didn’t get to go along. She was too young to know what was going on, and besides, I recall my daddy saying on more than one occasion that he couldn’t handle little kids—they had to get old enough to have some kind of personality before he could deal with them (and I’m told I was basically born with some kind of personality, lol).

When we came back home and got out of the car, he started carrying me across the yard, and then suddenly stopped and pretended that he had seen Santa and his reindeer up in the sky—that he could actually hear them. LOL And what I wrote above was, of course, the way it happened. Even though I was only six, I honestly remember that entire scene just like I was there right now. I remember the scent of Daddy’s Old Spice aftershave, how bitterly cold it was that night—me wearing a fuzzy little red coat and a hat that matched, but I kept putting the hat in my pocket because I hated the way the ribbon felt tied beneath my chin—and I remember that sky. It was so clear that night. So quiet. But in the distance, with Daddy’s careful prodding, I heard the jingle of sleigh bells and Santa’s voice loud and strong.

I sure miss my daddy.

Merry Christmas, Daddy. I love you.

I hope everyone who reads our blog this month will share in the spirit of the holidays with us and tell us about some of their favorite Holiday memories and traditions. That's what this time of year is all about--sharing. We might be online and unable to exchange gifts, but we can certainly give each other that special holiday spirit by exchanging little bits 'n' pieces of our lives from over the years. So, c'mon, share a memory with us or tell us something about the way you celebrate the season. We'd all love to hear from you.


Unknown said...

Treasure the memories. I am having a real melancholy time of late. This is the first Christmas without my Mom and 2nd without my Dad.
I find it so interesting the little memories seem to mean the most. I guess we need to remember that with our own children. It doesn't cost a dime to create a treasured childhood memory.
Happy Holidays, my friend.

C. Zampa said...

I loved this story!
I loved hearing your memory, Tess, and then it so reminded me of my Dad. And this is our second Christmas without him, so I'm going to think about that memory and think of him.

Tess MacKall said...

Yes, Adelle, we have to treasure those memories. For some reason the little ones seem to stick even when we don't realize it. I've thought a lot about Christmas over the years for the past several days. I was surprised by some other memories that surfaced I hadn't thought about in years.

My dad has been gone thirteen years now. My mom almost seven. It's still very odd not having them around in general, but during the holidays, it's especially hard. I'm constantly amazed by what their presence added to that time of year.

Happy Holidays to you too, Adele. I treasure your friendship.

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks, CZ. I'm glad it reminded you of your dad. Sometimes all it takes for me is someone mentioning something and I'm off on a memory trip.

And it's your second year without your dad. I'd like to say it gets easier, but I can't. But you do learn to pull out those memories, smile...and a different sort of way. You feel joy, you feel grateful that you were able to share a part of your life with such an incredible person.

Happy Holidays, CZ. I'm so glad to have you in my life.

Natalie Dae said...

This made me cry. Beautiful.


Tess MacKall said...

We've definitely got to get a handle on our tears, Nat. lol

I'm going to try for a funny memory this coming Monday. I swear. lol

Big hug for you, hon. Thanks for sharing my tears.

Anny Cook said...

Excellent memory! I collected mine from various years and sent them out as Christmas cards one year. They're precious and remind us (no matter what our current state)that Christmas is special.

Every year I post them throughout the month of December on my blog because someone, somewhere is out there needing a boost through the holidays!

Thank you for sharing your memory!

Tess MacKall said...

Oh, Anny...that's so cool you did that. What a great way of sharing your life with someone and spreading the holiday spirit.

I'm going to have to stop by your blog and take a look at some of your memories. Kind of like looking at snapshots in a photo album, isn't it?

I loved your exploding turkey memory. LOL It really stuck with me. lol

Anonymous said...

This was a sweet story. Like many others it reminded me of the Christmas' with my dad. One year I was about 5 my sister and I put out cookies, milk and carrots for the reindeer. When we woke up the cookies were gone, milk have drank and the carrots munched on. Next to the plate was a letter from Santa. Looking back I can still seet he handwriting clearly and it was my dads but it was so special. I can still smell that Old Spice too it is amazing so many men used that stuff.
I miss my dad every day too it is hard to believe it has been 5 years since he passed.
Happy Holidays everyone!!

Savannah Chase said...

That was a really great story...For some reason this year I'm not feeling the holiday season. I remember growing up and getting to be with my whole family. My grandparents and cousins and my folks. It meant so much to me. Now I don't get to see my grandparents or cousins so much so the holidays are a bit quiet.

Tess MacKall said...

Awww...Desi, that was so sweet. Thank you for sharing. I love the fact that your dad went to all the trouble of writing you a letter from Santa. My dad just ate the cookies. LOL

Now he did do something a little extra with the carrots, though. lol He took the time to nibble on them and not actually do away with the carrots. He made it look like an animal had been nibbling. lol

It's so wonderful to think back and remember all the little things our moms and dads and other family members did so we could believe in Santa and his reindeer. And they had fun doing it too.

And yep---OLD SPICE. I keep a bottle of it in my bathroom cabinet so I can sniff it every once in a while. I know--probably kind of lame---but I do it anyway. lol

Thanks for sharing your memory, Desi. It was really a nice one.

Tess MacKall said...

Awww, sorry you're not getting to spend time with the family as much as you'd like. Maybe you can start planning for a big holiday get together next year if it can't happen this year.

I'm afraid my family has dwindled down to just five now. No cousins or aunts and uncles etc around anymore. We all live so far away.

Big hug for you hon---bring out some holiday memories to keep you warm.

Foxx Miyamoto said...

*Sniffle* You got me all choked up, Tess. I remember when was 5 or 6 and my dad pointed to a red light in the sky and said, "Look, there's Rudolph! You better get to bed!" :D Now, it's so wonderful to share that magic with my son.

Molly Daniels said...

My earliest memory is getting up early and unwrapping a gift I thought was for me, but was really for my dad (his name also begins with an M). I was so disappointed, I went back to bed. And later, when I 'fessed up, our now-traditional Christmas morning was born.

What a neat memory of you and your dad, Tess:)

Tess MacKall said...

Awww...Cindy. I've been choked up all morning. Such a good memory but it does make me so very misty-eyed.

I love your story about the red light. So nice to know you're doing the same thing with your child. It's like a little part of your dad is still sharing. Nice.

Big hug...

Tess MacKall said...

Thank you, Molly. So what do you do now? All open up another's gifts? That would be pretty cool, actually. A really unique way to celebrate the holidays.

Our only real tradition is getting to open gifts on Christmas Eve---the big ones. lol We save the smaller ones for Christmas morning.

Regina Carlysle said...

I understand those bittersweet memories, Tess. I lost Daddy 14 yrs. ago on Jan. 3 and there's not a day that goes by when I don't think of him. A gentle, teddy bear of a guy. The loss doesn't go away. Ever. But the memories are so sweet and vivid. I remember him taking us (my sister and I) outside to look up at the sky to watch for reindeer or sitting together watching the 'weather report'. There was always a pic of santa and his sleigh on the tv screen and the weather made reporting how the weather would be for santa while he delivered gifts.

Oddly my most vivid memory is when my sister and I spent Christmas with Dad and Mom and we each had a little boy. Our boys were LITTLE and Dad's first grandsons. Mom and Dad bought them each little red and yellow 'cars' they could get in and roll around on. I think Dad played with them for HOURS as they figured out things and crashed into each other. I still recall the moment they abandoned the 'cars' to jump on Dad. He laid there in the floor on this back while the little guys crawled all over him. I remember him laughing. He had so much fun that night. And it was fun to see it all.

Texas J said...

Thats a sweet memory. I had to grab the tissues, "snifle". Most of all my memories are with my grandparents who I lived with as my mother passed away when I was 2. And yes Paw wore the old spice too. I can rember him sitting in his big rocker and watching me open gifts, with my grandmothers assistance. They are my best memories and they both have been gone for 25 years now, but their memories are very fresh. Thanks for the reminder of those times past :).

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

I love your memories, Tess. *sniff* Most of my memories are of mom and how magical she always made Christmas for us kids.

Tess MacKall said...

Oh, I remember watching the Santa report on TV with my dad, too, Regina. And I always watch it now with the kids. Even though they are too old for it, lol, we still do it. And it's so cool on the big screen. lol

Oh how lucky your kids were to get to play with their grandpa. That was definitely a nice memory for you. C never got to know his granddad at all. He was only six months old when my dad passed away. I tell C all the time that his granddaddy would have been over the moon for him too.

And it's very odd, but C has said a couple of things over the years that I'd never told him that are memories regarding his granddad that he couldn't possibly know.

Tess MacKall said...

Another Old Spice Daddy. I love it. Hiya Texas J. You got the sniffles, huh? Awww...another softie.'s the season.

So glad I helped prod a memory or two for you. I bet your Paw loved you to pieces.

Happy Holidays!

Tess MacKall said...

Christmas is indeed magical, isn't it, Lisa? It seems there are elves all around us in all shapes, sizes, and forms. You never know which elf is going to pop up and make a special memory.

Happy Holidays, hon. Hope this is a great one for you and your mom.

Zina said...

That is such a wonderful memory and I hope your record it for your family to come be it your kids, nieces, nephews or cousins, it's memories like those that bring people alive. I just remember always going to Grannie's and Pop's and lots of yummy food and my dad and uncle fighting over the Pecan and Chocolate Cream Pie and playing lots of board games with my siblings and Grannie trying to teach me Pinochle.

Madison Scott said...

What a wonderful memory, Tess. I'm glad you have it. Thanks for sharing. You're right, that's what this time is about.

Fedora said...

Hugs, Tess! Thanks for sharing the memories! I think that because the holidays are such a family- and friend-centered time of year, it's bittersweet when there are those we're missing this time of year :(

I think Old Spice is definitely a dad-favorite--my dad's worn that a long time, too! It still always reminds me of him :)

I'm thankful we can still get together every year so far, and we wait until after breakfast to open gifts :) They don't always still get us presents; now everyone makes sure there's something under the tree for the kids and for our parents :)

Tess MacKall said...

Ohhh Zina...fighting over pecan and chocolate pie--now that's something worth fighting for. LOL

God yeah, all the yummy food. I remember my granny always laid out toast and let it go stale to make her dressing with. Now most of us buy the bread already made stale. lol

Lots of good memories to recall this time of year for sure. I rattled off that one about my dad and me to my kids last night. They'd never heard it before. I need to talk to them about these things more for sure. Next week I'll be sharing a Christmas memory of my dad's from when he was a boy that he shared with me.

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks, Madison. Our Christmas memories theme really started me thinking. I've got a lot of nice memories I'd forgotten all about.

Tess MacKall said...

Another Old Spice Daddy. I love it, Fichen. My daddy switched over to Halston in the late eighties I think it was. But I'll always think of him as an Old Spice kind of guy.

The holidays are really a time for grounding ourselves I think. We take stock of our lives and really appreciate our friends and family. And we sure do miss those not with us anymore.

What would we do without our memories?

Anne Rainey said...

A wonderful memory, Tess. I just love Christmas. My hope is that my girls will share their fond Christmas memories with their kids! :)

Unknown said...

Oh, Tess, that is so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes, also. I didn't celebrate Christmas growing up, so I have no memories like that, but I made sure that my children had all special wonders of Christmas to remember forever.
Thanks for writing such a beauriful story and sharing it with all of us.
Merry Christmas!

Tess MacKall said...

Oh Lorie, so glad to hear that despite the fact you didn't celebrate the holidays growing up that you're giving that to your children.

There's nothing like the magic that kids feel during this time of year.

Tess MacKall said...

I'm sure your girls are going to pass along a lot of memories, Anne. When they are older and have children of their own, it may surprise you at the ones they remember too.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I feel so warm and tingly reading all the Christmas memories.

One of mine was when my sister and I were about 10 or 11. Our Dad had built us a dolls house, but there was nothing in it.

So, Christmas came, we opened presents and forgot all about the dolls house. Then, after things had calmed, Dad said, why don't you open the dolls house? We did and it was fully funished, wall papered, was amazing!!! We both fell on him hugging and kissing him!!!

in Germany

Tess MacKall said...

What a wonderful Dad, Valerie. Now that had to be an all time special memory for you. No way around it. And love the way he set it up with you thinking that was all. I just love it when people plan how to present something. Makes it even more special. And he even did wallpaper. WOW. That took some patience. So sweet. Like you, I'm feeling all warm and tingly for sure. Thanks so much for sharing that. Really really nice and very special. Hugs...

heidi330 said...

My first christmas memory is when I was about 5 yrs old(my brothers were 4yrs old and 3). My Mom had put my brothers and I to bed telling us the story of Santa and also said go to sleep and he will be here soon. I fell asleep but soon was woke up by a noise. So I went to look at what it could be. We had a big stairway with a window that look out on our back yard on the landing. I went down the first few steps to the landing looking out the window at the snow falling and I thought I saw reindeer standing.I was so dumbfounded I didnt know if I should go look or not. I went and sat in the middle of the stairway and looked through the rails trying to see in to the livingroom at the tree. I saw the lights and the angel but no one else. Just then I saw this man in a red suit walk out of the frnt room doorway and just stand there. He was smoking a pipe, I can still remember the smell of the pipe. He looked around then went back in the room. I waited to see if he would come back but he didnt. So I quietly walked down to the dining room and slipped through it to the living room and he was gone. There was presents under the tree but no Santa. I took off up the stairs jumped in bed and hid under the covers until morning. I told my Mom and Dad what I saw and they said I must have seen Santa. I even asked them about it when I was adult and they say it was not them. So I'm not sure what I saw but it made me believe that Santa does exist.
Happy Christmas

Tess MacKall said...

Aww...Heidi that's so sweet. I wish I'd seen something like that when I was a kid. I think I stopped believing when I was eight. So Santa didn't last long with me.

I told my own children through the years that the moment they stop believing in Santa he stops bringing them gifts. So I've got one going to be twenty, another almost nineteen, another almost fifteen who will argue with anyone who says a word about it that Santa REALLY does exist. LOL Wasn't hard at all to convince them.

Vicky CK said...

I still remember all the kids pile-ing around the oldest man (grandpa, or uncle depending on who's house we were at each year) to read "'Twis The Night Before Christmas" -big version with lots of color pictures for the little kids -after opening one (small) gift on Christmas Eve. We still do this for the next generation with my dad now :)

Tess MacKall said...

Vicky...the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas. sighhhh I love that story. I've still got a copy somewhere that I used to read to the kids when they were younger. I think I'll break that out this year and read it again.

Or maybe I'll find another Christmas story to read. Something more age appropriate. Anyone got any suggestions? I think I really would like to read a Christmas story a loud. Maybe even take turns with the reading.