Bargell: On Christmas Day, there’s just no telling what they’ll remember
Special to the Daily
It was a staple for all ’60s Christmas stockings. Assorted hard candy, ribbons of green and gold, guaranteed to stick to the bottom of the knit bootie. The candies gathered just the right amount of lint to ensure eating them would boost your immune system. It’s funny what we remember about Christmas.
Holiday memories etched years ago take me by surprise this time of year, often materializing without fair warning. Some are warmly welcomed, though others are accompanied by a residual sadness. I’m sure I’m not alone; we’ve all lost too many of the people who used to share the holidays with us.
I don’t really recall many specific gifts my pop gave to my mom during my growing-up years. In 1989, however, he broke the mold and gave her a beautiful, delicate gold necklace. It’s also the only Christmas I recall where our family gathered upstairs, instead of hunkering down in the basement family room. The hospice bed couldn’t make it down the stairs, so we sat in our small front room, feigning more happiness than we actually felt. I’m pretty certain my sister helped dad shop that year. The gift, at the time, seemed odd. Mom surely did not have an occasion to go out. In fact, nine days later she left us on the wings of a winter breeze that enveloped our home on a dull January day. The necklace stayed with her, around her neck as they laid her to rest. Some 25 years later the memory of her working to open the box that held the necklace stirs sentiment I did not realize was incubating at the time. It was the perfect gift, something I don’t want to forget. It reminds me time is short with the ones we love; savor the good times because we never know when they’ll come to an end.
Through the years my husband and I have laughed and cried over some of our earliest holiday memories. I wasn’t surprised to learn he loved heading to his grandparents’ home for Christmas dinner. Not so much for the meal, but instead to raid the candy dish in his grandma’s living room. It was filled with the same hard candy that stuck to the bottom of my stocking. The candy was not all that fancy, he remembers. But it was sweet. The trip to his grandma’s also meant various aunts and uncles were sure to stop by, some whom he only saw during the holiday. Their faces have faded, but the emotion evoked as he recalls them walking through his grandma’s door remains vivid decades later, something he will not forget.
It’s much like a picture from a long-ago Christmas where a kid in pajamas smiles back at the camera. Hair a disaster, teeth missing, eyes lit. Every time I see the photo I want to sit again in front of the plastic white and gold vanity Santa brought that year and marvel at the fact the lid actually opened and closed. So simple, and simply unforgettable.
The girls have now reached an age where the holidays they’ll spend living under our roof are numbered. Much of their catalog of childhood Christmas memories already has been established. Hopefully, they’ll know we did our best to make it a memorable time of year. But, really, there’s no telling what they will recall as they age, probably what we least expect. As we approach another Christmas Day it’s the candy dish at Grandma B’s that will linger in my mind. I never even saw it, but when it comes to Christmas it does remind me that it doesn’t have to be fancy to be oh, so sweet.
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two kids. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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