Christmas Memories

One thing I do not enjoy is cleaning out my china cupboard. It’s tedious and time consuming, I always fear breaking something, and then there is the task of putting everything back the way it was; not fun. But one year when our kids were small, I noticed a layer of dust on everything, so I took on the task. As I washed and dried the items, I told the kids something about each piece.

“This was from your great grandpa and grandma Smucker’s fiftieth wedding anniversary” or “These dishes are from your grandpa and grandma Miller’s first set of china” or “This bottle contains fool’s gold that I picked up on the banks of the Kuskokwim river in Alaska when I was 12 years old.”

But when I removed one item from a shelf, I held and reflected for a few minutes. It is a rather plain looking brown glass boot from Avon; it was my father’s cologne decanter. When I was a little girl I asked him if I could have it when it was empty, and he gave it to me in my teen years and I tucked it away. After I was married my brother built me a china cupboard and the boot was one of the first items I placed in it.

As I was thinking about all that I wondered if it still smelled like cologne. On a whim I unscrewed the cap, took a deep whiff and, like the “spirit of Christmas past,” the scent instantly brought to my mind scenes from my childhood Christmases:

-There I was early one Christmas morning, sitting on my dad’s lap while we five kids opened presents. I remembered the red flannel bathrobe he was wearing and the scratchy feel of his unshaved face. I felt warm and safe.

-Another Christmas, my sister and I had to close our eyes as we entered the living room because our gifts were too large to wrap. As I peeked over my teddy bear’s head, I saw two sets of shiny new handlebars—we got new bicycles (not hand-me-downs)! We rode them in the house because it was snowing outside.

-One year I received two new dolls. One I had requested, having circled her picture in the Sears Christmas catalog. I loved her (and I still have her)! The other was a rag doll—her big green button eyes were always staring at me, and she frightened me.

-Jumping out of bed and feeling the shock of the cold, hardwood floor on my bare feet while running to wake the rest of the family.

-Begging and pleading to open just one gift on Christmas Eve.

-The Christmas programs at church and afterward all the children would receive the biggest, most juicy oranges I’d ever seen.

It had only been a few seconds since I had smelled the cologne, but my memories had covered quite a few years. I quickly screwed the lid back on the boot. As I returned it to the shelf, I marveled at how the scent of my father’s cologne from an empty glass boot could hold such a volume of memories.

I hope that we all will have opportunities to share our Christmas memories, and make new ones, with family and friends.

“May you be blessed with the spirit of the season, which is peace;

The gladness of the season, which is hope;

And the heart of the season, which is love.” Irish Blessing

I’m praying for you, Pastor Deb