As surely you are too, I've been feeling extra tender-hearted these past few days. Holding my people close, wanting to stay close to home, lighting candles, taking action and sending love. Though home was drawing us near, I'm grateful still that the weekend brought us literallly over the river and through the woods to be with family for a holiday celebration.
Looking around at the present faces, I realized just how much the cast of characters has changed from my own childhood years. The older ones among us are gone, my own generation is firmly in the middle-aged (oh my), with the age scale tipped so firmly into the ten-and-under category that sippy cups and bottles outnumber the mimosa glasses (yet again, I say, oh my!). On the way to the party I talked to my babes about the memories so firmly etched into the essense of the holidays for me as a child, feeling surprised and a little bit sad when they didn't remember the same ones. But then, the truth is, they were only a few years old, a few months old the last time that Meme and all the aunties were gathered around the piano singing carols in four part harmony with laughter and teasing at who belonged with which part. And still a babe in arms the last time that Grampie pulled out his prized homegrown and long-fermented pickles from the cellarway that only the bravest amongst us cousins dared to eat. And I myself was their age the last time that, alongside my cousins, we were paraded in front of the Christmas party to reenact the nativity scene, complete with tablecloths for costumes. Because not a one of us could resist the charm, grace and gentle pleading from my grandmother for us to do so.
The details aren't exactly those these days, and we miss them, and especially those people, so. But oh, there was so much laughter and love all the same. And as one Aunt sat at the piano to play, we all gathered and did our best to sing. I watched as my little boy found his way to the soprano part with pride. And as his little sister and cousin danced 'round the room in their matching Christmas dresses and funny ruffle bummed tights that I know would have brought a twinkle to my grandmother's eye. A new tradition was born with the silliness of a fake snowball fight outside (with white socks, who knew it could be so much fun?). We fake-fought over rice krispie squares and fudge and caramel popcorn, as we always did and always will.
Driving home with a car full of excited children, it dawned on me again that my memories are not theirs. But this time, I was comforted anyway. They have their own special set of magicial memories they'll associate with the holidays, infused with a bit of the past, with room for new ones in the future, and quite fully present in the now.
Right now, in these days, I hold onto all of this with great love and hope.