Rainy Day Writing

Writing, Reading, Inspirations and Aspirations

The Ghosts of Christmases Past



Subject: A Christmas Eve Remembrance

Date: Monday, December 24, 2007 10:38 PM


It’s Christmas Eve. There is a mantle of snow outside and twinkling lights strung in garland cast a warm glow throughout the room.  The Bells of St. Mary’s is on, and Bing is crooning.  There’s a Christmas roast in the bottom of the fridge waiting for tomorrows meal prep, and a pot of kielbasa and saurkraut, just like Mom used to make.

There is no tree. There are no presents. But that really doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is this:

There are no noisy relatives jostling around in the kitchen, no neighbors bustling through the front door with Christmas greetings.

No one is drunk.  No one is singing.  The yule log is not burning on the 19 inch console television.

Phil is not fussing over the tree.  Hattie isn’t sharing her cake recipe with Aunt Mary.  Dad isn’t reciting an off-color version of The Night Before Christmas. Dolly isn’t at the sink washing dishes.  It doesn’t smell like Avon perfume, or cigar smoke, or scotch and beer, or coffee.

Aunt Kay won’t be making an entrance in a rustling dress. There is nobody dressed up as Santa Claus waiting to make a surprise appearance from the attic.  No jingle bells or stockings thumbtacked to the front door. There are no children asleep and sucking their thumbs under a mountain of coats in the bedroom.

There will be no long distance phone calls to Illinois, or Ipswich Mass, or Preston City.  I won’t be fighting for a place on the couch with Judy or Dana.  Joe won’t be debating politics or sports with Mike Harkins on the back porch.   Lebrouq will not be belching kielbasa and beer in the living room.  Pat will not be taking it all in with a grin and twinkling eye from the corner. Peter won’t be mixing drinks and there will be no plywood over the washing machine serving as the bar.

There won’t be any of it… and yet there will be all of it, because it all lives on in my heart and my memory. It is all Christmas, and it is all beautiful, and I will always be indebted to everyone and everything mentioned above and so many more people and memories that are too numerous to recount that make it all worth remembering. On a too quiet, too lonely, too empty Christmas Eve that is a poor substitute, and yet that is Christmas too, such as it is this December 24th, in the year of our Lord 2007.

Memory. This is the Christmas present I give to myself this year and as I open it tears stream down my face: tears of sadness for all that is gone now and will never be again; but also tears of thankfulness for all that was and for all that I was blessed enough to be a part of,  and, hopefully, for all that will be, in some not too distant year, when family once again becomes the focus and the priority, and the gift we give ourselves for Christmas. For it is a priceless gift and one we shouldn’t take for granted. Thanks for letting me share the gift with you.

Merry Christmas.


  1. I ended up with a lump in my throat at the very end, I couldn’t help it. This memoir is sad and beautiful and inspiring. I always feel a little melancholy at Christmas because most of my immediate and extended family live thousands of miles away and it’s just too hard and chaotic (weather has been a major issue in the past, i.e., snowstorms) to travel this time of year with our boys and to a person most of my family simply can’t afford to travel by airplane to visit us, the ticket prices are so dang expensive cross-country. I like having (and continuing) certain traditions with just my boys and their mom but it still gets me a little sad to not be with all the brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, etc. On the other hand, we’re flying Grandma here tomorrow so that has me feeling cheerier. And reading this memoir makes me feel cheerier (and a little frustrated that I can’t clasp your hands in-person and tell you thank you for sharing this).

    I wish you a merry Christmas, Ilona!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks TF! A virtual clasp of hands is good too! I hope you and yours all have a memorable holiday. And yeah, travelling this time of year is crazy and everyone back east has family obligations there. But the memories are dear and I’m thankful to have them.


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