The holidays can be occasions for joy, but also sorrow missing loved ones. It’s been several years now since Papa passed, then Mama a year and a few months later.
Precious memories fill the treasure chest in my heart. My parents loved the holidays and always made Christmas special for us.
When we were growing up in Virginia Beach (before his quadriplegia) Papa would go all out putting trains together to zoom around under our Christmas tree. Still not sure if that was just for us kids, or for him: the Big Kid who loved trains.
Mama pulled out all the stops for meal after meal of holiday favorites and gifts from Santa. The year she received a special bequest from her mother’s estate she gifted each of with something extraordinary for Christmas: brand new musical instruments. (My grandmother was a music teacher and Mama played violin in the Norfolk Symphony from the age of 15 until she set it aside having the five of us.)
Years later I still have my Gemeinhardt flute, played in marching bands and orchestras all through school.
Music was always a big part of our holiday gatherings. Each year Mama would get her violin out to play with Aunt Helen on her flute when she and Uncle Wayne drove miles and miles from Iowa to be with us. We’d all gather round the piano singing carols and playing our instruments.
(My now-professor-uncle met Mama’s sister Helen while singing in a church choir in Norfolk, VA, when he served as a Navy officer.)
In later years as Papa went from a wheelchair to bedfast, he belted out his baritone from his hospital bed as we kept up the tradition of making music after Christmas dinner.
Papa and Mama made music together all year through. How they loved hymns and carols! In their final years they set aside time every Sunday to memorize and sing verses of their favorite hymns that Papa kept in a file on his big computer.
In pain 27/7, those hymns helped Papa get through difficult nights.
Music was always such an important part of their lives. Living here during grad school, I’d ask, “Hey, can ya’ll turn your music down a bit, I’ve got finals!” as their classical music and hymns shook the walls.
(Usually it’s the other way around, parents ask their kids to turn down their music?)
In Va. Beach Papa had our house wired with speakers all over. @ 6:15 A.M. on school days he blasted the theme from the Rocky movie (Boston Pops full orchestra version.) We would scurry down the stairs for a quick morning devotions and yummy breakfast before catching the school bus @ 6:45.
So many memories, all so precious. I know many of you, dear readers, also miss loved ones (especially at this time of year.)
I’m not sure how thick (or thin) the veil that separates us, but I know our precious ones are not far, for their love resides in our hearts as joy that will not diminish.
Virginia : )
“We cannot wait til the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, for to share our grief, to touch our pain, He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!” Madeleine L’Engle