ghosts of christmas

Christmastime: a bittersweet mix of joy and sorrow, memories of the past, disappointments of the present and hopes for the future. A window into time. I find myself missing my dad, imagining him chopping down and hoisting up our huge fir tree, clowning around while opening presents, getting a little tipsy on extra wine my sister and I sneak into his glass, making funny faces as he carves the Christmas bird.

This year I did not decorate, let the ornaments sit in boxes in the basement, didn’t string any lights, only lit candles that flickered in our drafty house dripping waxy manes. After waffles we opened the presents that Michael’s parents always send to us, all wrapped up and tagged. There were a few colorful plastic infant toys for Calvin which, after a period warming to them, he’ll love mouthing. As I read the greeting card to Calvin my eyes filled with tears:


Thinking of you at the holidays and wishing you all the joys of the season ... Thinking of you with love all year, because you’re so very special.

We love you sooooooo much! Hope you like your toys and that this contribution will help find a cure for you!

Love always,
Gma and Gpa

As we opened the remainder of the gifts, Calvin proved completely oblivious that this day might be different than any other, that this might be a day when Mommy and Daddy drink eggnog with bourbon at 10 o’clock in the morning. Still crying, I said to Michael, “I wish Calvin knew what was going on ... we’d be such good parents to a normal boy ... have so much fun.” I imaged Calvin asking us about Santa, hoping for snow, ripping open presents, joyfully bounding around the house. Instead, Calvin slumped in his johnny-jump-up, rubbing his eyes with unexplained red hands.

As I write this, snow begins softly falling onto grass and copper leaves. It feels soothing, meditative. The wood stove, with its roaring fire, expands and creaks. Albert Finney sings songs from the musical movie Scrooge and Michael putters in the kitchen making a pumpkin pie. And while it is a very special day for so many, in this household it is just like yesterday and the day before that. But we are together, which in the scheme of things is all that really counts.

Ghosts of Christmas Past:

photos by Christy Shake and Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. Thinking of you guys on Christmas with special appreciation. May the new year bring blessings.