nostalgic christmas

Alone in the house with Calvin and Nellie while Michael spends a couple of hours at the studio. Silent Night is playing on the radio. For the first time in years I feel an emptiness, its source the absence of my mom and dad. I long ago lost my religion, but I sometimes still enjoy a few holiday traditions I did with them as a kid.

While feeding Calvin grapes I remember Christmases of my childhood, recall Dad goofing off in his new orange track suit, and making funny faces while carving the bird. Even the feeling of disappointment when certain gifts given to me weren't exactly how or what I'd hoped feels nostalgic. I wish Mom and Dad were still around. Wish they'd had a chance to know Calvin. Perhaps Dad would bounce him on his knees until he giggled uncontrollably. Maybe Mom would trap Calvin in her larger-than-life hugs, a flour-dusted apron tied around her ample waist. We'd sit around the table making jokes, passing dinner rolls and gravy. I've little doubt that Dad and Michael would've been famous friends, working in the kitchen, cleaning up the mess together. Michael's family eggnog would have been a big hit with Mom and Dad, though especially Dad who had a wicked love of sweets.

But they're both gone, Dad for some twenty-two years and Mom for a handful. Instead, I've got memories of them seared into my head—the smell of hot apple cider and of breakfast sausages and French toast wafting through the old brick ranch house. Holiday music coming from the radio atop the fridge. The huge tree all lit up and tinseled. The warmth of Mom's smile and embrace. The relentless razzing Dad gave each of us. How nice to see him when he wasn't working, though Mom, who was a homemaker for eight, never really seemed to quit.

Yes, these carols so familiar spark in me a visceral poignancy, and I'm overcome with a loneliness I know isn't uncommon during the holidays. But Michael will soon be home. Then friends will be arriving after sundown. Eggnog with bourbon and rum will be drunk. Savory meats will be carved and eaten. Wine will flow. Cake will be served with ice cream. Mom and Dad won't be at the table, but my own family will be, and the house will be full of love and laughter. And Calvin, whose days are virtual carbon copies of each other, won't know he's missing anything.

Mom and Dad, Harriette and Don

1 comment:

  1. Nice picture of your parents.
    Creators of the finest swimming Totems ever.
    Go Calvin and Merry Christmas!