Blessed Blue Aura

blue christmas

blue christmas (Photo credit: rojam)

I started this post before Christmas. I just got busy and never finished…thought I”d go ahead and put it out there even though it’s past due.

Such a busy month looming right ahead of me! Starting this weekend, the first weekend of December 2012, holiday cheer will be spread every weekend of the month. I should be cleaning and scrubbing and doing the wash. But I keep feeling a memory tugging at me. It began at work. The gym of the school, decorated like a huge Christmas fantasy by the custodian, contains a tree decked out in solid blue lights.

Oh my! The impact that solid blue lights have had on my life. It’s the most magical of all magics dreamed up in my childhood. My mother adorned our tree every year that I can remember in all blue lights. Sometimes as a wee girl,I really wished for multi-colored lights. But now as an adult, I so cherish the feeling of a solid blue tree. The bulbs of my childhood were huge and cast a beautiful hue that filled that darkened dining room where our tree stood each year. I remember staring at it and blurring out the world as all my hopes and dreams of Christmas night danced in my head. The excitement it created in my little heart blooms every time I see such a sight to this day. The feelings are so old and familiar but somehow I cannot recreate them until the blue lights catch my eye.

The blue lights create a holy aura and I reflect on Mother Mary and her newborn babe, Jesus. Such a peaceful calm overcomes me and a deep love of my life and my family surrounds me as I cast back.  I remember the Christmas Eve car rides with mom and dad to see all the pretty Christmas decorations of our townsfolk. I remember mom running back into the house for some forgotten thing after we were already packed into the station wagon. We never figured out that she was Santa,  working hastily to pull things out of her closet and place them just so before running back out to join us in the car.

We only knew that upon returning home we would find that Santa had paid a visit. I remember the wonderful brown paper bags scattered around the tree, each with a name for every one of us children.  Those blue lights bring the ecstasy of reaching into those brown bags and finding that special gift. We never realized that many times they were hand me down toys from some other child. A toy was a toy and we didn’t care if it had some dings or imperfections. It was prized in it’s newness to us.

We opened gifts from each other and the torn, discarded wrapping paper would pile so high that it was thrilling in itself.  Excitement revealed itself as board games and new dollies and walkie talkies and books appeared. Mom and Dad would share a glass of Egg Nog, spiked just a tad, and mom would kiss his cheek. We snacked on nuts and tangerines and hard candy as we shared our gifts with each other all evening until it was time for Midnight Mass.

Even now, as I see solid blue lights adorning some house,  my memory flashes to our old Christmas lights in that dining room. It seems to me we were illuminated in a blessed soft blue aura swirling around us,  pulling us closer and binding us to one another, forever.

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Mama’s Bible

Mom w/Andy and Dad w/me on laps. Evening with one of our priests. Becky and Peggy in the background.

We had a small family gathering this weekend. My sister, Amy, brought our mother’s bible and we all got a chance to look through it. This well-loved book was like an old familiar friend as Amy pulled it out. It had apparently lost its cover some time ago. The pages were heavily noted with her handwritings scrawled in the columns and passages underlined and sometimes triple underlined.  I came across three or four dried four leaf clovers pressed into the pages and had visions of her children and grandchildren bringing her piece of nature. How thrilled she would be as she would ceremoniously help that child find a book to press them in.

My sister, Peggy, and I took turns with mom’s bible. As we skimmed through, reading a noted passage here and there, we tried to understand what she may have been dealing with at that particular time. We were grasping to eek any little bit of knowledge from the writings. We wanted desperately for her to reach out from that old bible and give us some wisdom.  Just some little something that would bring a little piece of her back to us.

I can still see my sweet mother reading to us from that bible. After supper we were not excused from the table until we were all finished and she read us a passage. I remember the boys fidgeting but giving her respect and staying seated. I remember the girls with their heads bowed, resigned to giving an extra ten minutes before starting with the dirty dishes. I would follow along as much I could and try to discern what lesson she wanted us to receive. Somehow, my young mind would manage to drift but I was always secure in the knowledge that mom definitely had our spiritual back.

I remember her sitting in the living room when I came home from being with my friends at night.  With only one lamp lighting the big old house, she would be there, reading it again as she awaited her teens to make curfew and be safely home. The nights that I would miss curfew, she still would be waiting up. I would be scolded. “I know what you’ve been up to!” she would say. I knew just to hang my head and take my tongue lashing as I sat on that cold fireplace hearth.  I never really knew what she was talking about, which sin to confess too. Because truth be known, I was probably guilty of whatever she thought I was up to, that and more.  So I would just sit there quietly until she would tell me to go to bed. I would slink upstairs and stay below the radar the next day, cleaning the house and doing what I could to get back into good graces with her and be forgiven.

Sometimes she didn’t need the bible to be open. She knew it’s passages by heart. Dad always took us on two week vacations in the summer. What a great time we would have. Dad wouldn’t shave for two weeks, he would relax and even joke and tease with us a little. This was something to us. Dad was a man of many responsibilities. With twelve children and two full time jobs he didn’t have much time to relax. Plus, he had to shave daily for his job as a State Trooper and we rarely saw him with whiskers. Vacations were a very exciting time for us.  But before we would venture out in our old station wagon, laden with luggage on top and packed with kids of all ages, pulling the Starcraft camper, mom would gather us in a circle. There in the living room she would quote from the bible as she prayed for our safety and probably her sanity on this adventure. I knew she would have her bible along and would sit beside dad in the front seat and pass the time with her two old friends.

That old book was the map to her whole life. She used it to help herself and her family along on our journey. She used it to keep her children safe as they played and grew all around her and again as they gained their wings and flew away. She used it when she was hurting, when she needed clarity and guidance. She turned to it in her happiness and successes. It was an everyday study for her. It brought her comfort and peace. Her old bible was her friend, her teacher, her confidante, her love, her peace of mind.

Wrapped Up In Nursery Rhymes

My daughter, Allison, called me today, breathy and so excited with ideas for the nursery. She rambled on about the colorful vintage curtains she found at a thrift store and about the cribs she’s been viewing on craigslist.org. As she spoke I flashed back to her as my little girl, tagging along to the laundry mat, rubbing the old ladies hosed legs and engaging them in long chats. I had visions of a sweet child that also visited our old neighbor, Hazel, and sat and chatted with her for hours on her front porch swing.  I flash to her a little older, tagging along to the thrift store as I scoured for clothes for my three children. How she would insist on no name brand clothing, only vintagey hodge podge mixes that she always managed to pull together and make her own style.

“Mom, what’s the name of that old nursery rhyme book you used to read to me at grandma’s house?”  She pulled me from reminiscing on her childhood back into her conversation only to flash me straight into my own childhood.  “I want to use some of the poems and pictures to decorate the nursery!”

When I was a little girl, we had a family nursery rhyme book called, The Bumper Book by Watty Piper.  The large yellow covered book and all its bright cheerful pictures are the literary background to my early childhood.  I constantly pestered my older sisters to read to me from it. If they couldn’t or wouldn’t, I would lie on the floor with my feet propped up on the couch and study the pictures and dream of a day when I would be able to read all the lovely poems on my own. When I became old enough to read, I read and reread this book to my little brother.  When the nieces and nephews came along, I read it to them.

Of course, years later, upon each visit to my parents’ home, I made sure to read this book to my own children. One of my favorites from this book is the poem about a grandmother with a very slippery knee. The pictures of the “Lollypop Jar” made my mouth water and the rhythm would stick in my mind for hours afterwards. I loved that short fat grandmamma and I especially loved that little cupboard.  I can still repeat this one almost by heart. This a few of the stanza to it.

The Cupboard by Walter De La Mare

I know a little cupboard
With a teeny tiny key,
And there’s a jar of lollipops
For me, me, me.

It has a little shelf, my dear,
As dark as dark can be,
And there’s a dish of Banbury Cakes
For me, me, me.

You can read on and find out what his short fat grandmama has to do with the cupboard at this link http://www.scrapbook.com/poems/doc/1573/53.html

I think of all of this and once again I am in awe of how life always seems to come full circle. How the little things that we cherish become the very ones that connect and bind families. And so, it seems so very fitting for my lovely daughter to choose to welcome and wrap her unborn daughter in the comforting literary love of our family’s generations. May the love continue! I love you, Allison!

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