Opening the Door to Christmas

December 24th, 2013

I got to talking about Christmas memories with some friends this weekend.  I have a pretty bad memory and so my recollections of childhood Christmases are a bit vague.  Happy, to be sure, but not always precise.  Just a blur of laughter and food and Christmas carols and twinkling lights.

Perhaps my most vivid memory of Christmas as a child is the moment of arrival at my grandparents’ house.  We drove to Iowa from our home in Illinois each year for the holidays – a journey that seemed incredibly long to me as a child.  Five hours in the car was pretty much forever.

But at the end of the endless trek waited my grandparents’ home – a beautiful two-story set on a slight rise so that the driveway slanted up steeply into the garage.  A lighted paper star hung in an upstairs window, beckoning to us.

We’d park in the driveway and enter the house through the garage.  It was always cold – this was the Midwest at Christmas, after all – and we’d clomp in our snow boots up a few stairs that led from the garage to the inside of the house.

I’d throw open the door and there they would be: my grandfather and grandmother, perhaps an aunt or two, some cousins.  And we’d all shout “Merry Merry!” at each other and exchange hugs.  Given the distances between our families, we really only got together once or twice a year so there was extra joy infused in the moment.

The kitchen would be warm and bright and smell like cookies or soup or maybe just love.  Merry Merry!  It’s Christmas and we’re together again.

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