Monday, December 22, 2008

My Ghost of Christmas Past

I came across an envelope this morning, Dear Reader, tucked into the back of my jewelry drawer. In my mother's printing, it was labeled "Very Precious Notes." I know she meant that envelope for me and that I would find it when I cleaned out her desk after her death. Until this morning I have never had the guts to open it and read those messages Mom had tucked away. Today was the day.

Anyone who knew my mother, even casually, would never say that she was maudlin or sentimental, not one for "Kodak moments" or Hallmark Hall of Fame manufactured emotion. It was with some surprise I read the following poem---but I understand why it was special to her and why she kept it. If you can't be sentimental at Christmas, when can you?

So, Mom, thanks for putting this away for me. Thanks for being my Ghost-of-Christmas Past. Reading that little bit of doggerel has opened the flood gates of memory and I truly feel you are right here with me, giving me the stink eye for 'outing' you. I am sticking my tongue out at you (with love). Guess I should say, back at you! I miss you. Merry Christmas.

by Lois Duncan

I saw the Ghost-of-Christmas Past
Glide by our lighted tree.
Her arms were filled with dolls and toys,
And all were meant for me.
I sensed the rustle of her skirts.
Her blouse was trimmed with lace,
And when she turned to smile at me
She wore my mother's face.

Just as this vision slipped from sight
I heard my daughter call.
Wild footsteps clattered on the stair;
Shrill giggles filled the hall.
She burst into the gift-filled room
And squealed in glad surprise,
And all the Christmases-to-come
Were mirrored in her eyes.

How swiftly fly the rainbow years,
Like splintered shafts of light,
As fragile as the gentle ghosts
Who whisper in the night.
I draw my child into my arms
And hold this moment fast
Against the time my face will be
Her Ghost-of-Christmas Past.

Eleanore "Pete" Smith Rawlings, 1916-1997


Meri said...

What a dear, sweet treasure! And at a time when you're creating Christmas memories for your grandchild...let's hear it for synchronicity and miracles.

Gwen said...

Wow, that brought tears to my eyes! Because of the weather, I am not going to Portland to have Christmas with my Mom (who will be 90 in March) and Dad, and our daughter is on her own (but with her sweet boyfriend) for Christmas for the first time in Austin, TX., so it really hits home.

Thanks for sharing, Michele and what an absolute treasure that is!

Linda Sue said...

Oh Wow...I am undone.

diane b said...

What a beautiful poem and a beautiful mum. What a good time to decide to open it.

Grove Street Journal said...

Mom, you made me cry. I miss grandma too.

Donna said...

Today is the 24th anniversary of my mom's death. My first Christmas without her I found this poem in a magazine and quickly cut it out. I saved it on the fridge for many years. It even survived a few moves though it was torn and tattered. One day I noticed it was missing and in my busy life I figured it would turn up some day in a pile of old papers. It never did. I always remembered the first line and have searched the internet at random times for it, but never found it again....until today, the anniversary of her death. Thank you. I have copied and pasted it to my computer and also printed out a hard copy...I'm not taking any chances of losing it again. I have six siblings. I think this will make a great Christmas present for all of them. Again, I can't thank you and your mom enough for printing this lost treasure of mine.
With happy tears,