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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

This daily prompt spoke to me, because it does rather apply to me.  I suppose you could say I am living the scenario described within.  I have left my home to travel the world for a year (or 2, or 5…).  I did have to decide what to bring with me. In terms of decorative or sentimental things, that means: Not much.  Each personal item was weighed against whether it would be useful on the travels, or easily replaced by similar items upon arrival.

There is one thing that I brought with me that serves no useful purpose.  It does not have much relative value; in fact, probably none to anyone except me.  It has traveled with me wherever I have gone since it was given to me.

You see, there are many levels of associative memory involved in this item.  My great grandmother, who taught me to write poetry and was my best friend until I was 12 years old (I wrote her letters almost every day, and she wrote back to me as frequently) collected music boxes.  I also developed a great love for music boxes as a result.  As a graduation gift from high school, my parents gifted me a custom made music box.

Made of rosewood and with a custom swiss movement.

Made of rosewood and with a custom swiss movement.

 

When most other kids were asking for a car or a trip to Mexico (My brother asked for, and received, a television set for his graduation), I wanted this.  I didn’t ask for it, my parents just knew me well enough to know I wanted it.   Mom chose the music to go inside it – our favorite piece of music.  Variations on a theme by Paganini  – by Rachmaninoff. So, you see, this piece has a bit of my great grandmother, both of my parents, my mother and I and our mutual love of something, and myself in it.

Over the years, this has gone with me everywhere I go.  I have taken it to university, to every home I’ve lived in.  It has seen every heartache and every good time.  It has been the one “thing” that has never been lost, misplaced, or stolen.  It holds my memories in it.  Some of you will recognize…some of these.  Tickets to a Chicago Bulls game and tickets to a family reunion dinner.  Tickets to a comedy show and my pass as cast at a Medieval Fantasy Faire.  A ticket to a play in which one of my best friends starred. A tiny ceramic bear with a signed “I love you”, a gift from my first love.  A celtic knotwork cross. There are more things buried underneath this top layer.  But it is where my treasures lie.  It’s precious and invaluable.

Music Box 2

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I am sitting at my computer.  We have had a meal of takeaway (the local “Chippy”, for my American followers). The presents are (mostly) wrapped, and hidden in the bathtub in my room.  Stranger things have happened.

I am not a Christian.  I do not believe that Christ is the son of God.  I don’t believe in God as some omnipotent anthropomorphized entity that throws arbitrary blessings and punishments at human beings.  Christmas for me is much like the other holidays (holy days) that my eclectic family observes; we observe Chanukah in reverence and respect for the members of our family who hold the traditions and faiths of Judaism.  We observe Yule out of respect for the history and traditions of Nature worship.  We celebrate Christmas out of love, respect, and tradition for the great majority of our family who are Christians, who believe in Christ according to their denominations and observances, and because of the social and cultural associations we have with the joys of Christmas.

As a result of that love, respect, and tradition, it won’t surprise any of you who know me to know that so much of my love for this season is about my Mom.

Mom loved all things Christmas.  In fact, from the middle of November until after the New Year, Mom was in her happy place.  She was so amazingly quirky about how she went about things – Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then the sad putting away of the time.  She would bustle around the house, not making everything perfect for everyone else, but making everything just the way she liked it.  Our tree covered in aluminum icicles, so thick that you couldn’t see the ornaments hidden behind the silvery curtains.  The bowls of ribbon candies and mixed nuts set out  on every table, as if we were having company at any moment.  The music – this might be my most heartrending memory – the music playing loudly throughout the house, on the stereo equipment that my father saved up to buy for a very long time, and Mom’s incredibly sweet, if untrained, voice singing along as she bustled about hanging mistletoe, or making candies.

Here in the UK, I am surrounded by people who love me.  I have made incredible friendships with people who are selfless and loving and giving to their core.  They are not my family, though. I sit here, healing, not having much energy to bustle about hanging mistletoe and icicles and lights.  And I listen to Nat King Cole singing his Christmas Song, and I can hear every single note in my Mom’s voice.  Every. Single. Note.  I feel both her presence and her absence sharply.

I struggle to make these connections for my children. I want them to feel the joy of tradition, the joy of family in these times.  I want them to feel this intensity of emotion when they are reminded of me in years to come.  I think these types of memories are the sweetest gifts I have from my Mom.  Her pure joy.  Her love of us and for the season. I never wanted for that.

Maybe not the singing, though.  My children will thank me if they don’t hear my voice in every Note of the Christmas Song.  But I can teach them the Christmas Song in Nat’s voice.  And I can share with them, every time we hear it, my memories of Mom.

 

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