Very Merry

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It was hard to see. I would have missed it if I was not looking down. A tiny piece of Christmas paper was partially submerged in the cold, red, Alabama clay. I didn’t see much of anything else on the lot except for bricks and remnants of my grandparents’ house. Then, the memories came pouring back, and all I could see was her.
Mema kept the Christmas decorations in the attic and would make my grandfather get them down for her every year. She would stand at the bottom of the pull-down stairs, while he handed her the boxes that contained the magic ingredients of every Christmas for the first decade of my life. Tinsel, glitter, glass ornaments, and the felt reindeer that pulled the rosy cheeked plastic Santa in his matching plastic sleigh. I can’t forget to mention the colored lights that my grandfather would quietly sit and test before hanging on the tree.
The ornaments were always hung with care but there was no hoping to it; I knew St. Nick would definitely be there. I don’t remember Christmas with my daddy. I do, however, remember wishing he was there with me. Mema and Mama would take me out on the grand front porch of my grandparents’ home, and we would search the night sky for Santa. I remember searching and combing through the stars for a glimpse of his sleigh. When I finally saw it, I ran back inside to leave cookies and a Sprite on the hearth. Then I was tucked into bed not to arise until Christmas morning.
Christmas Day was always so magical when I was a young girl. I loved spending time with my cousins and playing together with the gifts Santa brought us the night before. I always loved opening presents with my aunts, uncles and the rest of my family, but something was always missing—my dad. No matter what I received under the tree or near the fireplace ever amounted to the emptiness inside of me. More than any Little Miss Make-up doll or Radio Flyer wagon, I wanted my dad and that’s something that Santa would never be able to gift me.
Mema’s house always felt like a safe place to me. I guess it felt that way, because that’s where we lived for the first several years after my daddy died. Mema and Main (my grandfather) became a second set of parents, in a sense. My mother worked long hours, so I spent a lot of time with them. Their house was big and full of antique treasures. I would spend endless hours exploring the basement and the attic. I was always “getting into something” my grandmother would tell me. That’s, of course, when I wasn’t busy “eating them out of house and home.” I loved my childhood in that big brick house.
As a tear fell down my cheek, I remember picking up a brick that was laying near that small muddy piece of wrapping paper that held a lifetime of memories. The brick was cold and caked with mud. I took off my glove and I wiped it off the best I could and carried it along with me. I walked along the perimeter of where their home once stood and tried to imagine the construction of new homes that would begin within the next several weeks. My eyes filled with tears as I looked across the large and newly empty lot.
It was hard to believe it was gone. All of a sudden, I yearned for my childhood. It made me miss my father more.
I said a little prayer to myself and walked back across the street to my house. I lived across the street from them the last several years of my grandfather’s life. I was never very close to Main, but no doubt about it, we had a special bond. When he passed away, an era ended. It’s as if part of my life died with him. I disguised my pain and lived on brokenhearted. I cried a little more as I washed that brick off in my kitchen sink. I removed the last little bit of mud and set it in on a towel to dry.
That was five years ago. Every Christmas since then has been a painful reminder of what “once was.” I will never be able to relive the magical Christmas memories of my childhood or explore my grandmother’s attic, but I have my own family now. I have two little girls and a husband. There are presents under “our” tree that we cut down in “our” woods, behind “our” home, that we carefully decorated together. On Christmas Eve, we will take Emily and Abigail out on the front porch and we will search the night sky for Santa Claus and his sleigh. We will then rush inside to leave homemade cookies and a Sprite (or maybe a Diet Dr Pepper) for Santa to snack on when he visits later that evening. Jody and I will enjoy watching our girls relish in the spirit of Christmas as it is so special when they are this age.
Now that I have my very own little girls, I think of the magic of Christmas and how special it was to me when I was a young girl. I remember the wide-eyed glory of seeing what Santa left us on Christmas morning and now have the pleasure of seeing that same joy on the faces of my girls. The emptiness is now just a tiny speck. My father still isn’t here, but I have the sheer joy of watching Jody be a father. I see the smiles on the girls faces. I get to experience so many firsts for me and my girls. It’s one of the best gifts I could ever ask for.
I still have the brick from my grandmother’s house. It’s almost as if the brick that came from the rubble and ruins of what once was became part of the foundation of what I have today… My very own family with a mom and a dad.
I can experience a father through my daughters’ eyes and that makes my Christmas very merry.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full time mother and wife. She currently resides in Dadeville with her husband, two daughters, 4 dogs, and cat. She may be reached at fullalove2017@gmail.com.

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