Christmas: Memory vs. photographs

Christmas: Memory vs. photographs

You oughta be in pictures,
You're wonderful to see,
You oughta be in pictures,
Oh what a hit you would be! *

Al Bowlly should have sung these lyrics directly to my parents. As the youngest of five children, I was not in pictures often, and my scrapbook is proof. Not a single photo of my childhood Christmas graces the pages of my scrapbook. All that visually remains is what I picture inside my head.

And yet, my memories of my childhood Christmas are vivid:

  • Writing letters to Santa Claus, believing wholeheartedly in the man in the red suit, experiencing his "presence" in the tree "he" decorated and the presents he left behind...
  • My grandmother's knitted afghans and dolls...
  • My mother's handmade dolls and dresses...
  • Sneaking a peak at packages in my mother's closet...
  • Christmas cookies and caroling...
  • The time we'd driven to New Jersey to spend time with family over the holidays; my third-grade self prayed desperately for snow while my father prayed it wouldn't, as he didn't feel safe driving in it; then awakening the next day to a yard filled with snow -- that only seemed to cover the street on which my grandmother lived, no further. God answered both my prayer and my dad's...
  • Receiving a brand new flute (a huge expense) from my parents and no longer having to use a school rental...
  • My parents' sacrificial giving to make our Christmas special...
  • Anticipating the annual Christmas specials on TV and watching them as a family...
  • Playing flute in the church orchestra or singing with the choir at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall the two evenings before Christmas, and having to take the show outside prior to the show to bless those who wouldn't be able to get a seat inside...
  • Singing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" and taking the standing ovation personally... 
  • Inviting the youth group to our country house -- the driveway lined with bag candles -- as part of the Christmas progressive dinner...
  • Participating in the church's living nativity -- aided by the circus families in the church who set up high wires so angels could literally fly in...
  • The spitting camels...
  • The years baby Jesus was played by my newborn nieces and nephews... and then grandnieces and grandnephews...
  • Opening our home to various church members who didn't have family of their own...
  • My mother's apple pie...
  • The family's anticipation of Christmas, lighting the Advent Wreath with its pink and purple candles, and the weekly devotions (and desserts) as we focused on the true meaning of Christmas...
  • The increasingly dilapidated china nativity scene we featured in our decor...
  • Taking my father's newspaper route with my older sister, ringing sleigh bells and yelling "Ho, ho, ho!" at every house we delivered to in the wee hours of Christmas morning...
  • Wrapping my father's gifts to my mother and laughing -- especially at the Avon Sweet Honesty cologne he bought her, knowing it was something I'd worn in junior high school...
  • Discovering a family in need on Christmas Eve and shopping with my sister until late at night, attempting to meet that need, then delivering a large bag filled with packages on the front porch the next morning... anonymously...
  • Time with family and friends around the table, near the fireplace, admiring the tree, and even working in the kitchen...

As I look through my own family's photo albums and remember the holidays, prompted by my children's childhood captured on film, I both regret and celebrate the lack of photos from my own childhood. (My parents got tired -- or too busy -- to shoot photos of their fifth child.) Most of the photos from my youth are faded and yellowed and of such an ill quality they almost take away from those vivid memories. Of course, this won't stop me from shooting photos of my own children (and my cat, apparently).

More song lyrics... namely, "You're so vain... You probably think this song is about you..." comes to mind when I see my cat under our Christmas tree. She seems to think the tree -- and its ornaments are her new play things... I can imagine she would think the song, "You Oughta Be In Pictures" is also all about her...
More song lyrics... namely, "You're so vain... You probably think this song is about you..." comes to mind when I see my cat under our Christmas tree. She seems to think the tree and its ornaments are her new play things... I can imagine she would think the song, "You Oughta Be In Pictures" is also all about her...

------

*More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/you_ought_to_be_in_pictures_lyrics_al_bowlly....
All about Al Bowlly: http://www.musictory.com/music/Al+Bowlly

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