Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas past lives on in the present and in you by Donna Galanti

Christmas is here again. A blend of old memories from Christmases past and new ones being made. It took a long time for me to feel at peace with the Christmas celebration changes of the last few years as our lives changed. Suddenly, the steady Christmases of my childhood and youth were gone.

My parents sold the Upstate New York country home I grew up in and moved south. I no longer could "go home" for Christmas and see all my childhood friends. I got married and moved away. We had a child.  New people were in my life now. And things kept changing. Christmas left me with an uncomfortable feeling then, one of constant change and uncertainty. It made me sad. I wanted to skip over it.

My parents oh-so-trendy Christmas outfits!

For a long time the loss of my childhood Christmases hung heavy on me. My mother once said she didn't have Christmases growing up during the Depression. I do believe she made up for that later in life by lovingly decorating and entertaining with grace and warmth. And I had always envisioned bringing my husband and son "home" to that warmth for Christmas. But that would never be. Especially since my mother died.

But then I discovered as my son became older, that I finally accepted the change because it won't ever go away. Change goes on and on. And as I embrace my memories now, I realize no one can take them away. Now is the time to look forward and enjoy creating those special Christmas memories for my son. He is the next generation and I am the past. What he remembers now will be part of him forever. Just as I remember.

Recently, I took my son to Upstate New York the week after Christmas to visit friends. On our way home we wound up the Helderberg Mountains to drive by my old homestead. The once showcase home now stands worn, overgrown, and abandoned-looking by homeowners without a care.

But that's not what I see.

I see glittery, snow covered fields as I climb the last hill home. Lights burn soft, falling on snow from the farmhouse windows. Smoke curls from the chimney as I pull into the stone driveway and park in the barn. I pass holly and bows strung on the lamp posts welcoming me home.

Christmas when I was 4. Loved my stuffed Tom Kitten from Beatrix Potter!

And as I knock the snow from my boots upon entering, the smell of mincemeat pie, rib roast, and Yorkshire pudding float around my head in a delicious wreath. I see my mother in an apron ready with a big hug, a glass of wine, and a loud "Hello!" I see the tree with decorations of decades twinkle a soft sentimental greeting. The fire pops while candles flicker a peaceful glow.

And there out the bay window over the pond, I see the North Star rise in greeting over the hills spread out before us. The hills I once sled down on Christmas Eves gone by. I can still breath in the crisp stillness that lay over the fields under the moon in a humble sleep. I watch the flip of a beaver tail as he swims under the frozen-over creek on the way to his dam.

I see fireplaces blazing at each end of the house and a table filled high with food as laughs and hugs abound. I see folks gather round the center hall piano to sing lively tunes with eggnog in hand.

I see it all.

And I cherish not only my Christmas memories but my favorite childhood books with special childhood Christmases in them. I pull them down from my shelf and re-read them with the season.

Two of my favorite middle grade novels are The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston and Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I even re-read my favorite picture books, that my mother saved. The magic of Christmas as a child comes to life for me again, and that is comforting.

Me and Josh on Christmas morning
Memories of Christmases past live on in me. Christmas is now about creating memories for my son, for our family. My memories will always shine inside me. And now my son's memories will live on through me.

What sort of Christmas memories live on in you? And what are your favorite books with Christmas tales in them?

Josh reveling in the first snow!

Sadly, this is my last post for Project Middle Grade Mayhem as new adventures are pulling me to new places. It's been a wonderful three years connecting with all of you here. Happy reading and writing and imagining!


  1. Donna, I'm sorry to see you go. Thank you for all the wisdom and joy you've left with us here.

  2. Thanks for this post, Donna. It stirs up memories from my childhood, including sledging in the field between our house and the church. Also the Tom Kitten stories were among my favourites as a child. Happy Christmas to you and your family - Nadolig Llawen as they say in Wales.

    1. How lovely Roland. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year to you!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!