(This is student work submitted as part of the Youth Voices collaborative project.)
by Sarah Howe, WUHS 10th Grader
My favorite holiday. The tree, the twinkling lights, the snowflakes plummeting in
slow motion to crash into its brothers and sisters. It always fascinated me how no two
are ever the same.
The eggnog, the sugar cookies, the colorful sprinkles that somehow manage to get
everywhere when you bake with them. It all brings every kind of memory to me.
I remember walking through rows and rows and rows of trees, walking with my
family, and trying to find the perfect evergreen companion that will watch over us as
we open our presents on the best morning of the year. I remember having hot chocolate
while we waited impatiently for the tree to dry off, before we decorated it. The Christmas
music blasting throughout the whole house as we danced and laughed and sang along.
The roast chicken and the trips to the grocery store for the Christmas Eve meal.
I also remember that first Christmas without my dad’s father, the backbone of
our family. Without him, well, we were lost. Lost floundering and scrambling to keep
our family together and to keep spirits high in this time to celebrate being together. But
we weren’t together, and our tradition was permanently altered. That tradition would be
held still, but with heavy, nostalgic hearts. Nostalgic for when everything was normal,
when he and his wife would visit us, together, on Christmas morning, and let us explain
what great things Santa brought us.
The true magic though, is the fact that every year we manage to remember all of
the great Christmases we had with him before he left. Every year we are filled with a sad
type of joy, the two emotions mixed together as we sat before the tree and spoke to each
other about our great memories.
“He always said ‘drive safe, take care.’”
“He was always joking around.”
“He was always smiling.”
“He always made us laugh.”
All of those memories would make us smile, make us tear up, and make us laugh
in the light the Christmas lights were throwing off. They came back in the form of a
treacherous flood, threatening to sweep us off our feet with sad feelings. We didn’t let
the flood get to us, though. We remained happy and thankful for the time we had with
him. And that, I believe is the true meaning of Christmas.
I once heard that anyone who hasn’t lost a loved one could never understand
what those who have go through. And I can say for a fact it’s true. I never understood
what it felt like until it happened. And I feel that something like that brings a family
closer together, especially around the holidays. It gives us reasons to remember and be
thankful, and that is truly magical.
(This story was first published in the December 12, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
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