ike snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance – each beautiful, unique and too soon gone. — Deborah Whipp
Dad is driving our car slowly through the crowded main boulevards where the city is dressed in all its Christmas glory. Colorful garlands of hanging bells are strung from one side of the street to the other. Red, green, blue and gold, full and fluffy like piñatas, swaying gently on the crisp breeze… the material they’re made of glinting in the sunlight. It’s easy to imagine they are ringing as we listen to Jingle Bells merrily playing on the radio…
I watch the people on the sidewalks moving as though in time to the music only we can hear, jostling packages, opening store doors that jingle jangle… and my heart pounds with excitement. We’re on our way to the biggest DOWNTOWN department stores… Something we save only for special occasions like Christmas shopping, Mom explains… And here we are, pulling into the parking lot!
I feel like Natalie Wood on the brink of her 34th Street Miracle… Though we are nowhere near snowy New York, the sights and sounds around me light my heart with anticipation as big as Rockefeller’s giant tree. Hurry, hurry, I urge as Mom laughs and leads my sister and I out of the car.
“We have all day, honey,” she smiles.
“And we’re going to window shop first and see all the toys and dolls moving in the huge store windows, aren’t we?” I ask.
“Certainly,” she assures me.
“And we’re going to have fancy hamburgers and chocolate malts afterwards, aren’t we!” my sister pipes up.
“Mmmm… yes!” Mom and Dad agree. That’s always our Downtown Department Store Excursion treat.
“And we’re going to –“ I start.
“—get going NOW!” they chorus, grabbing my sister’s and my hands.
Ooohing and ahhing from glorious window to window, I’m entranced with mechanical dolls dressed in Christmas velvets and bows, busily running around miniature decorated trees, baking up tiny pies and cookies, setting doll house tables for holiday feasts. I know we are only looking… but I don’t mind. It feels like I’m walking down main street at Disneyland, and I simply love being able to watch them… enjoying all the color and sparkle and creativity of it all.
We move through the huge glass doors with the big M. lettered on them… And suddenly crowds are pushing all around us, rushing to be first at sales tables set out front. I feel like a cork, squeezing through a bottle as we burst inside and I find myself holding onto mom’s skirt in a moment of fear. My mouth falls open at the sight of people grabbing things off tables, throwing them down, dropping items they don’t want on the floor, even pulling things out of other people’s hands…
Quickly, Mom gathers us up and over to the escalator where I take a deep breath and hop on…that first step on is always a bit daunting!… riding up and up through the fairyland of shimmering wonderlands hanging from the ceilings…and breathing a satisfied “O!” Everything is so big and festive and merry… I would be afraid if I weren’t safe with Mom and Dad, moving in and out of so many people milling around. But Christmas music is in the air, jolly wreathes and huge red bows line the counters I am just big enough to peer over… and there’s a – tingle of joy – running through me, like a happy hum of starry nights and glorias on the wing.
All the sparkle is wrapping around me and I find myself chattering about the fun things I can see over here… the soft furry coats over there… I’m pushing through the people pressing around me, keeping my eye out for Mom’s plaid skirt, Dad’s red sweater… when… asking an unanswered question for the third time, I look up… into strange faces all around me… and PANIC.
Holding my breath, I whirl around, scanning the floor for Mom, Dad… even my little sister. But all I can see is a sea of woolen pants, skirts and coats, moving here and fro, encircling me. They’re just over here… I tell myself in that split second. Or… again I whirl around… maybe over here, I think, choking back tears. But… they aren’t… anywhere.
What am I going to do? How will I get home? Suddenly beside myself, I begin to sob.
“Honey, honey…here I am,” comes a beloved voice.
Tears streaming, I look up, meet her smile, feel the calm of her voice flowing over me. She’s been right here. I just didn’t know it. They haven’t left me… and I’m not alone. A final sob shudders through me as I relax into the warmth of her hand clasping mine.
“We’d never leave you…,” she says.
I smile. For one awful moment, I’d feared Christmas had left, even as I stood in its midst. But Love’s been here… all along.
Today, over the years and through the sorrows and joys, this memory washes over me, along with the echo of Mom’s words ringing through — like a carol singing out the very same promise of our Father…
Because of the One who is My Christmas Gift to you … You are my beloved child and I will never leave you or forsake you…
And I whisper… to you and to me:
Let us rejoice and be merry in knowing we are never out of His sight – even in the midst of all this season’s bustle.
© Pam Depoyan
Tag: Like Snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance