As the years pass, holiday memories can be bittersweet. It's best to treasure the sweet.
One Christmas very long ago, my little brother - 4 year old toe headed Mikey - couldn't keep a secret. "You're getting a typewriter for Christmas", he said. At 7, I was barely aware of what a typewriter was and thought it sounded rather odd. I pondered the idea for weeks.
On Christmas morning, we sat on the stairs staring in the distant below which would remain tradition for many years as we had strict orders not to enter the living room until the Parents granted permission. I could see no typewriter. When we were permitted to make the mad dash of discovery, I found a wonderful little corner store with a cash register. My guess is that Mommy masterfully told Mike that it was a typewriter knowing he might spill the beans but creating a way to keep the gift disguised.
That little corner store generated many hours of fun as cousins reading this are likely to recall. Many of those hours were the last I shared with Mommy. That was our last Christmas together.
I cannot begin to imagine how difficult the next Christmas must have been for our Dad. I cannot remember the tree or excitement of Christmas morning that year. I remember Mr. and Mrs. Frinifrock across the road brought early gifts - pick up sticks for me and a Barrel of Monkey's for Mike. But I remember there was snow that Christmas in 1966 because Dad bought snow ski's for all three of us and we tried them in the yard. They had springs that latched our boots to the skies.
In that year of deep grief, he had found a determination to create adventure. That winter, and for many that followed, we skied with our little ski's and spring bindings. He bought a nice camper that year. We camped more with our aunts and uncles and made our first trip west that next summer.
This year, I mark as the first since Dad's passing. Our last conversations were filled with talking about things he thought I'd like to see. As Mike so eloquently said in a tribute to Dad last April, that is the gift he gave us and our sisters that he adopted as dearly as his own. On that Christmas in 1966, that is the gift he gave us and continued for many years.
I am certain it is the gift he intended that we would pass along.
And perhaps - just perhaps - it wasn't completely a diversion about the typewriter. Perhaps my mother knew, I would be intended to write. And write, I will.