Dec 17, 2011

Christmas Memories

Every Christmas decoration, every ornament, or scene we create, carries so many memories for each, and every one of us.

Some are of wonderful happy times, and others of bittersweet, even sad ones. But mine are so unique for me and to my life, that I absolutely cherish each, and every one. I'm not sure if that is the essence of living in 'Christmas past' but for me, it merges and becomes one with my Christmas present.... and even becomes a part of 'Christmases future'.

This Christmas is rapidly becoming one filled with very different memories and each choice I make for each new day is showing me that those choices, like the ones I made to create, or purchase.....each ornament or each decoration, will determine a new path and a new setting for me, and for all that surrounds me.

My little starch stiffened canvas fabric snowman, a vintage postcard with bits of lace and baubles, an antique dinner bell and engraved napkin holders, a poinsettia from a dear friend, and all of these tiny strands of bells and old candlesticks in my window all are seen,,, and felt now.... as items filled with, and creating new memories. All of these sitting on my Alaskan grandmother's vintage treadle sewing machine. A sewing machine that miraculously survived our house fire that burned our home to the ground with only charred bits and pieces left behind. A sewing machine that I taught myself to sew on when I was only 8 years old and she had died and our family bought and moved into her house.

Memories of craft fairs with my best friend of over 30 passed on from a horrible accident 14 years ago...are now memories of time spent, and time shared. Chopping down our Christmas trees together, putting up lights all over our houses, inside and out. And memories of raising our children together, building our houses together..more than 28 years as friends, and 20 as next door neighbors. So many, many memories..from births of children, to parties, and school volunteering, to living and raising all of our children as each others best friends.

Many of the ornaments on my tree...we made, or we purchased ... are often duplicates to one anther's decorations. We loved so many of the same things in the late 70's, 80's, and 90's until she and her 12 year old daughter died in 1997 in a car accident. Life can suddenly and dramatically alter, we each have to choose a new path, and you and your journey, are forever changed.

The energies of creation, of time passed, are also of time now present and future times yet to be....all wrapped into one. A delight to still have, to cherish, and to meld seamlessly into each new event in my present.

This week, my almost 96 year old Mother-in-law had a mini-stroke. Know as a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, it occurs when the blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. A person will have stroke-like symptoms for up to 1-2 hours and then suddenly, the symptoms disappear, and they appear to be feeling better.

Even over the phone, I recognized what was happening to her. My husband rushed to the town where she still lives at home, and stayed with her. The next day, it happened again and now a trip to, and a stay at hospital. With family members with her around the clock, she is now back home again with new decisions about her own care needing to be made. New decisions about the meaning, and nature of Christmas celebrations together. Two mothers, both with so many problems, so much care required....but two mothers, each in her own way...helped to be part of all Christmas memories over the years for each of us. One in Alaska, one here in Oregon and me in the middle yet part of both of those lives.

All that we are, and all that we cherish changes through time. But if we love, and love well...even through the most challenging of times...all of those memories continue on. They are simply parts of us, and part of this journey we are all on, together.

Create and share your own Christmas memories and let each one be special and unique. There is such joy, such remembrance in each of them! The sad times, the bittersweet ones melt away for me. I still only feel the joy. today...choose joy and make new memories to add to the old. As the saying is silver, the other is gold. Please share with me some of your own memories...some of your decorations and place my link from this post With Heart and Hands: Christmas Memories
into your own post so that I, and anyone else who reads here, will instantly link up to your blog..and we can all share those memories from, and with you!

Michele Bilyeu Quilts With Heart and Hands for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Join in my Liberated Quilting Challenge...and buy or donate a quilt, today!! We are changing the little quilt at a time.


Anonymous said...

Michele, I am so sorry to hear about your mother in law with so much else going on in your life. But this was such a beautiful post and I love your basket with the snowman.

stitchinpenny said...

So many sad things going on in your life. The thought that ornaments are reminders of the paths our lives have taken was highlighted last week when my 4 year old granddaughter told the history of her family as associated with the ornaments. The dog in the Santa hat was from the year her dog was born. Not exactly but close. She pointed out the year she was born, the year her parents were married, the big sister ornament from the year her little sister was born. Stuf from daycare, stuffe from friends and family and her oral history grew as she talked.

Scrappy quilter said...

So sorry to hear about your mother-in-love. Life is so very difficult when our parents age and begin the downhill spiral with strokes and other illnesses. This will be my first Christmas without my mom. I can barely get into the Christmas spirit and yet I'm working hard to make it filled with loved for those around me. Sweet friend, I hope your Christmas is a good one. Love ya

Bee Quilter said...

Oh this is beautiful and you sure made me stop and think. I went over and looked at our tree and suddenly, I realized you are so right! Thank you and thank you for being there for your moms as you are.

Unknown said...

Lovely post and very touching.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Hugs and prayers for your family . . .

I, too, have posted about the layers of meaning in our holiday decorations. Sweet and sad, funny and joyful, all jumbled together and seen differently every time I walk by ...

Lynne said...

You know, I have said for several years, "it doesn't feel like Christmas". I have not had my ideal Christmas (with my parents) for many years and I thought, "Let's just cancel Christmas. It doesn't mean anything to anyone. Let's wait and celebrate when everyone can be together".

But then I realised I felt like this because I have not accepted that Christmas doesn't stay the same; like everything in life it moves on and changes, transforming into something new but no less exciting. I am not the child, nor the parent of a child; I am now the grandparent and we are in a different phase of our lives. Sure, both boys are too small to know what's going on but Older Grandson gets so excited by little things - like the magic of lights on houses and the joyful sounds of carols. So, I am determined to learn from him and enjoy my "new" Christmas traditons and stop yearning for what can never be!

Silvinha said...

Hi Michele,

That the baby Jesus to bring all good health, harmony, unity and joy. And a Happy new year