Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Starts a Little Early

As unorganized and mostly clueless as I've been so far in shopping and preparing for Christmas, I've nevertheless been on the receiving end of several nice gestures this week. On Monday, I received a box of Godiva chocolates from two people from another department, for whom I do a couple of journal entries a day (the accounting kind, not the blogging kind). A few minutes after that, the guy from India who will be helping me get caught up on a backlog at work gave me another present to unwrap: a Parker pen. Several people in Accounting got these, which he brought from India with him. Neither of these are Christmas presents per se, but they certainly help to get me in the Christmas mood!


Meanwhile, I enjoyed a bit of banter with someone who sends me certan reports a couple of times a month. They represent a lot of work on her part, a bit less on mine, although at one time I used to spend days on them. Yesterday she sent along the latest ones, with the note, "Let's all enjoy the last few ****** reports of the year." I replied that they filled me with holiday cheer.

She said, "I thought that was the egg nog."

I told her I didn't drink egg nog, but that I'd take some hot cider if she had any.

So today I was helping the guy from India sort through some of my paperwork. When I returned to my desk, there was a packet of artificial cider mix on my chair!

I called downstairs to thank her.

"I knew you'd figure it out," she said.

Okay. here's the snowman story.

In 1996, my parents got divorced, and my mom packed up to move to Florida. One day I came across her in the dining room in our house in Manlius, burning the snowman candle I showed you in last night's entry. I got upset. This snowman had been in our Christmas decorations as far back as I could remember.

Mom explained that she was burning the candle as a symbolic goodbye to winter. She was, in effect, using heat to destroy winter, and melt the Syracuse snow forever. But to me, she was burning my childhood. We fought about it, and she reluctantly put out the flame after a quarter inch of the snowman's hat had melted. I confiscated the snowman, and I've had it ever since.

It's not in great condition; the wax surface is encrusted with dust and hair and paper, and transferred backwards lettering from old newsprint. It's discolored in a few spots from other candles stored with it, and there are places where I've smooshed it back together after it got soft in the Arizona heat. But he's still my old faithful snowman, clutching his short black broom and smiling cheerily at me.

And ironically, the snowman still reminds me of my mom, and not in a bad way. As upset as we both were at the time, that incident still says a lot to me about both my mom and myself at that moment in our lives. My mom was trying to purge parts of her past, destroy her inner Syracuse and start fresh in a new place that was warm and, she hoped, welcoming. I was bruised and saddened and threatened by all the anger and blame, and trying to hold on to whatever good I could salvage from my own fading childhood. Yet despite our bitter disagreement over the candle, we were both doing much the same thing. We each invested this little wax artifact with meaning beyond that of any old candle, and tried to use it to shore up our damaged spirits. Although I hurt Mom's feelings that day, I'm still glad I rescued the old snowman, because it means I still have him to remember her by.

Karen



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3 comments:

DesLily said...

gosh.. i wanted to hear the story but didn't know it would be "sad"..sorta.
But then there always seems to be an item or two that flashes in our memories.. strange how that happens. Sometimes we don't know they will happen until they do.

Barbara said...

I am glad that your co workers are boosting your Christmas spirit. It is nice to have that comradery with the people you work with.
I love the snowman I got one like him at my 4th grade Christmas Party. I am glad the memories are good ones.
Barbara

Bea said...

Ooooh, chocolates and a pen... I love those kinds of gifts. Simple, practical, and divine. I don't have any special Christmas decorations from childhood, or teen hood... I have nothing in my possession from my childhood, actually, except some letters that were written to me from the time I was about 13 or 14. We moved so many times, everything that I could have saved was lost, sold, given away, or left behind. But amongst the letters in my attic trunk, I have several "buried treasures" that living family members would drool over. I wish I had a dusty, crusty, partially used snowman candle to bring out every year to connect to my childhood. I have managed to save many things from my son's childhood, however, and I bring those out for him, and someday, I will pass them on to him. Thank you for reminding me how important those little things are. Glad you are getting into the spirit of Christmas.Bea