The Spirit Of Christmas

December 15th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

“I am the Spirit of Christmas Past”.  “Long past?”  “No, your past.” These are the words exchanged between one of the three ghostly visitors and Ebenezer Scrooge in a movie version of “A Christmas Carol”. As the years go by, I too am urged by this gentle spirit to reawaken my most cherished childhood memories.
A baby boomer of the  Five and Dime era, I was shuffled off to Woolworth’s on one occasion to meet with Santa Claus. Four or five years old and awestruck at the imposing white bearded figure in the red suit, I had lost my ability to speak. To be sure, I was terrified. I couldn’t  tell the man what I wanted so I merely nodded my head at his every suggestion whether I wanted the thing or not. That’s how I ended up with Thumbelina, a poplular doll at the time. I didn’t want Thumbelina, didn’t like Thumbelina, yet there she was come Christmas Eve. This was my first life’s lesson to speak up when you want something or you just may end up with something else. Oddly enough, I wanted Chatty Cathy, a “talking” doll.
In time, Thumbelina was given a hair cut making her even less appealing. I couldn’t understand why her hair didn’t grow back. Or why the hole I bored into the back of another doll’s neck didn’t produce the desired result when the string I shoved into it was pulled. Even a fervent Hail Mary didn’t do the trick. I was still dreaming of Chatty Cathy.
As children go, my brother and I were relatively unspoiled, having parents who weren’t well off in our early years. I never understood my mother’s apology years later for not having a lot to give us at Christmas. I thought the things we got were great; a doll of some kind (even a nameless one), a coloring book with a brand new box of crayons, a game, all of which could be purchased at the 5 and 10 cent store for practically nothing. For me, the real magic was the tree, delivered fully decorated by Santa himself during our blissful hours of angelic sleep. The fragrant boughs were laden with precious glass ornaments, multitudes of silver icicles and German chocolates wrapped in foil, all glittering in the moonlight. Underneath, amid the snowy cotton folds, lay baby Jesus made of wax and ensconced in a beautiful wax box. My youngest cousin left her teeth marks in his head probably thinking he was made of candy. I was never so vexed at the sight of his mangled head in the years following. This was the same little girl who poked her finger through every delicate glass ornament within reach until an obliging adult finally heard me voicing my apparent displeasure.
Christmas Eve was always spent with cousins who lived in a neighboring town. Once there was such a blizzard with drifting snow, it was thought we couldn’t go. Not to be disappointed, we piled into the car after tying our Flexible Flyer sleds to the bumper. Since no one else was on the road it was deemed safe enough for the car to pull us along for a couple of blocks. Arriving at our destination flushed and exhilarated, we were met with surprise and delight from those believing we would never attempt the journey. As a child, the sight of falling snow under an old cast iron streetlight was pure magic. It still is. The tiny encrusted flakes sparkle like diamond broaches on winter’s mantle of white.
“I am the Spirit of Christmas Past” urging you to succumb to the age old tradition, to give someone something to look back on. Donate a toy to any organization in need of distributing some holiday magic. Or what about contributing to a local food drive, The Salvation Army, or even a church breadline? Christmas brings out the best in people, making us more human and at times elevating mankind to near angel status by our random acts of kindness. At the very least, it will make your spirit soar.
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