Hello my dear friends…a holiday update!
On Sunday, December 3rd, at Storrowton Village in Springfield, Massachusetts, I shall perform a holiday reading from Charles Dickens’, The Christmas Carol as part of their annual Yuletide Festivities. I have chosen to read the chapter, The Ghost of Christmas Past.
Did someone just ask why I chose this chapter? Thank you. I was hoping someone would.
This is not to say I have anything against the present. I don’t. The present is filled with wonders. Sitting at my computer composing this missile…absolutely marvelous.
The wonder that I can put thought to page makes the present brilliant. In the present I am clothed, fed and sheltered. Fantastic!
So why not choose The Ghost of Christmas Present? Well, honey-bun, because I would have to wait until Christmas. But most of all because at this stage of my life, thoughts about Christmas from my past waft in and out of my present and I remember.
What a sentence. I remember.
Oh, yes, how great is that. In the present, I put one foot in front of another. In the past, I sit back and I remember. And this is what I remember…
A very long, long, time ago, I grew up in Boro Park, Brooklyn. It was a very mixed neighborhood. There were Christmas lights on one house and next door there were Chanukah candles.
I was raised in the Jewish faith. My family celebrated Christmas and Chanukah. Do not ask me why. I do not know. When I was younger, I thought everyone celebrated everything. Why not? I wanted to be on whatever line there was that was giving out the presents. Wouldn’t you?
And then, one year, I received a rude awakening. I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. Before the holiday school break, the class Christmas tree was raffled off. I won! I was so excited.
I remember pulling the tree behind me from school all the way to my house. I ran up the stairs. Yelling for my mother to come and see what I had won. I dragged the tree into the living room. I should have known something was wrong. My mother was sitting in a chair. My mother never sat down in any chair. I was the seventh of eight and believe me when I tell you I never saw my mother sitting down…including meal times.
But there she was sitting in a chair in the living room. Our Rabbi sat in another chair.
That was the year I discovered Jews don’t have Christmas trees. To save face, my mother asked me to throw the tree into the garbage. Heartbroken, I did as she asked. The Rabbi left.
My mother went out to the garbage and rescued the tree. Brought it back into the house and into the living room. I was loaded down with many of the mixed messages parents impart to their children. This was one mixed message that did not add to my growing list of neurotic complexes.
Along with so many of my memories of Christmas past, this one is favorite. It is right next to the vision I have of Christmas mornings…
On the staircase, all eight of us lined up one behind the other, according to age, the youngest first waiting for Santa to call us onto his lap to take us to our nest of gifts.
Santa Claus, aka my father, 6 foot 2 inches tall (how did he make it down the chimney!?) dressed with a Santa mask that had seen better days, and a gorgeous blue silk embroidered Chinese kimono… did I say CHINESE kimono?… I did say CHINESE kimono. That was his Santa Suit.
Did I believe this 6-foot 2-inch kimonoed vision was Santa Claus? You bet I did! Like I said before if he was the keeper of my presents, I was a believer.
In the present and the approaching season to be jolly, I want to tell you that the world of possibilities still exists for me. Though, a 6-foot 2-inch kimonoed Santa might strain my credulity. But what is a belief about if it is not about being tested?
I believe. Now, where are my presents?
YULETIDE AT STORROWTON – Sunday, December 3 at 2:30pm