This Christmas memory comes from Missy Raines, bassist with Claire Lynch, and leader of her own group, Missy Raines & The New Hip.
It’s late, and Ben and I are making our way to my childhood home for a Christmas visit. As we drive north through the mountains, my mind wanders back to years past and the rich memories I have of this season. Next to summer time and bluegrass festivals, I think the time my mother loved the best was Christmas. By early November, it became her main focus, as soon as we put up the last lawn chair and winterized the camper, that is. She did her ‚Äòspring cleaning’ then, (no time in the spring, there were festivals to attend!), and sometimes a major home improvement project took place, which usually included changing the color of the walls. To this day, the smell of paint makes me think of one thing only, December 25th.
Christmas was a special time because my parents made it special. And for my mother, it was a particularly special time. We had lots of traditions and rituals. Many of them, I learned later were unique to our family and I suspect they came out of her imagination. She had what I would call a ‚Äòless than desirable’ childhood and she used to tell me that it was her goal in life to break that cycle and create a completely different environment with her children. She succeeded in that. She cast a spell of magic around most holidays and infected us all with a joy that has never dimmed.
There’s something to turning things around, to react to the negative with a positive, to making good out of bad. It’s powerful and empowering. I have felt it. I have also missed it, missed the opportunity, seen it go by like a fast train. But each time it’s presented I know I have a choice. If we could think about our actions not as quick moments; first here, then gone, but rather as long lasting ripples that radiate out and lap upon those around us then we would always choose wisely. We would choose to make something good of every situation.
It’s at this time of year that this seems so relevant to me. This is a time when like no other, our actions are under the microscope. This is the time of year when we’re supposed to see the good, no matter how hard it may be to find. We sing about it, we pray about it, we decorate about it, with the words, PEACE and JOY and LOVE all around us. For a few short weeks a year, it’s as if the world is a photograph where (pardon this) the negative is reversed. The images are the same as before but we see them differently. We react with love, with kindness, and with tolerance. We turn the other cheek, sit on our tempers, count our blessings and turn things around.
This is the beauty of the season and though it’s clich?©, wouldn’t it be lovely if it were like this all year?
My mother taught me many important things, but perhaps the most important thing was something I learned through example. I am the product of a ‚Äòcycle broken.’ My siblings and I are the beginning of the end. We have a solid foundation of love and trust and happy memories to sustain us through our adult lives. It could have so easily been different for us but for a choice she made to change a negative into a positive.
My parents are gone but our family grows with grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I see the ripples flowing, and they are strong, healthy and long lasting. Thanks Mom and Dad.
Merry Christmas everyone.