ABC's of Christmas

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As I finish unpacking the Christmas decorations (with the exception of our family tree which is waiting for my son, Drew's arrival home from college this Friday), I realize that the unpacking, handling and placing of these "treasures" that I've collected over the years is, for me, almost as much a part of the season as the "Big Day" itself. 

For me, decorating takes weeks. Not literally, of course, as I work a full time job, I still have a son at home, one in college, a dog, and a house that seems perpetually in need of cleaning.  I steal an hour or two at a time during the week. It's usually in the early hours of the morning, sometimes before dawn, when the house is quiet.  It's then that I unpack the boxes, unwrap the tissue and spend a few moments remembering how the different symbols of the holiday came to be a part of what are now my Christmas traditions.

There are ornaments; gifted to me by my parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. There are both vintage and new items, some that used to be "new" that are now considered "vintage" *smile*.  There are nutcrackers and trains, cookie cutters, and angels and Santa Clauses;  all manner of holiday "stuff" that I've amassed during my life and to which, there are additions, each year. Some are gifts, some inherited, some "found". (At some point, I'll probably need to stop collecting...but that's not the point of THIS story. *wink*) 

Among my favorites is the collection of Christmas books.  Every year, from the time that they were born, I gave my sons a Christmas book on Christmas morning. These books make an appearance on the shelf, in the family room, for the month that is "Christmas" at our house.

We have read these books. At first, we read them to the boys. Then, the boys read them to us. Now, the boys read them to themselves or walk by, pause, pick one up, flip through it...sometimes only to the first page...where the inscription is. 

Among these books is one that wasn't a gift to my sons. It's my favorite book. It's my book. It's this book.

It's not fancy, doesn't have a screen printed graphic on the cover, shiny coated pages or slick typesetting in a cool font. The pages are yellow. I've had it for as long as I can remember. It was a Christmas gift from my Godmother/Aunt Mollie who was, at the time, probably 17 years old.  She bought the blank scrapbook with her own money and then spent her time filling the pages and making a gift for me that has become one of my most prized Christmas possessions.

Inside is a page dedicated to each letter of the alphabet with a Christmas related symbol, cut from an old Christmas card and with a rhyme, written in blue ballpoint pen, in my Aunt's cursive handwriting, describing each one.  Holly, drawn in colored pencil, adorns each page.  On the "Y" page, there's a photograph of my aunt and me, in the foyer of my grandparents' house, on my First Holy Communion.

This book too, makes an appearance on the shelf for the month that is Christmas at my house. I read it.  I remember reading it with my Aunt that first year. Her reading the "big" words to me and me reading the "little words" to her.  Over the years, I've read it to myself. Sometimes, I walk by, pause, pick it up and flip through it.  Sometimes it's only to the first page....where the inscription is...

In the best of all possible circumstances, when we share love and time and talent we create memories. Sometimes we do it without even realizing it. 

Thank-you Aunt Mollie. For sharing yourself, your gifts and your time with me.  I love you.