Monday, December 31, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I posted this on my myspace on Christmas Eve and the aftermath of sorting through the photos on December 26 sends chills up my spine. The photo was taken at my mom's (Aunt Betty's) on Christmas Eve...right before my cousin Hannah left.

Christmas Eve
Every so often a holiday season comes around and I actually have my act together - decorations hung, projects completed and gifts bought and wrapped well before Christmas Eve sneaks up on me. This was one of those years. As I left the fumes of Pink Nail Salon in Broomall late Saturday afternoon, I realized I was finished. Whoo Hoo. What a far cry from previous years. For some reason my head went back to 1997. I distinctly recall framing a Nick Santoleri card of Barberlin Hall (at St. Joe's University) for my grandfather. He had studied there back in the day. I'm imagining I must have been working today - Christmas Eve (you know, time and a half is a big deal) so by the time I arrived home from Deck the Walls, it was time to get dressed - out of my grey cords and white zipped hoodie and little retro sneakers - and get over to my grandparents house. The framed card was not wrapped. I dragged myself and my unwrapped gift over there and stashed the gift on the second floor. After dinner I scurried off to wrap it and not a minute too soon. It was for him and he was in the living room below announcing, "Time to open the pressies!" Quickly I taped a bow to the front and tore down the steps and dropped it on the top of his gift pile. Some time later (because it always took Nana and Pop Pop the longest amount of time to open their tower of gifts) my mom nudged me and pointed to Pop Pop. He had opened the gift and was staring at it with nostalgia and then looked over at me and said, "Thanks, Chrissie...this is great!"

Four years later after he passed away my grandmother handed me a few things. "You gave these to Pop Pop and he'd want you to have them." Within the stack was the framed picture of SJU. I had forgotten about it. He'd kept it in his Media law office. I held it for some time and then looked on the back where I had written, "Dear Pop Pop, Merry Christmas, Love Chrissie" and beneath it the date: 12/24/1997.

Of course now it means more to me than that Christmas I gave it - since I studied there and in many ways was his gift from beyond to me. I have it with my tassel from graduation day next to the framed letter he wrote me in 2000 congratulating me on my time at St. Joe's and wishing me well on my trip to Greece.

Tonight when we go to my mom's house for Christmas Eve I know it isn't quite the same as when we went to Nana's for all those years. It was his favorite holiday though for bittersweet reasons: his mother passed away on Christmas Eve. Being around his immediatate family took his mind off his loss. I think for everyone there tonight this evening has a similar aura. But then there is Hannah, my 8 year old cousin, born only 18 months before he passed away. Hannah tells us, "I see Pop Pop all the time at Aunt Betty's house." So I have faith he is with us, especially on Christmas Eve.

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