Christmas Memories

Last year when I wrote about celebrating Christmas in honor of my Poppa Max, who we lost in October of 2007, I mentioned his efforts to keep the magic of Christmas alive for little ones. The Christmas before that (2006), I was really stumped about what to give Poppa Max for Christmas. Here was a 90-year-old man, basically house-bound, and medication made it all but impossible for him to follow the plot of a movie or book. I did all I know to do: I wrote something for him -- I told him how much memories of Christmas with him meant to me.

Turns out that was Poppa Max's last Christmas this side of heaven. So when we cleaned out his office, I was given the framed essay back. I thought I had shared it here, but don't guess I have:

"As the only daughter of the only child of Max and Maxine Riley, I was never in need. Gifts and attention were both lavished on me to almost embarrassing proportions.

Of course, Christmas was no exception. In the weeks before the big day I would crawl around, through, over, and under the maze of gifts beneath Nonna and Poppa's tree -- but only after I had thoroughly exhausted all enjoyment from the Christmas tree box. Under the tree I would marvel at the growing number of gifts and check to be sure there were plenty for me.

Christmas Eve was most excruciating as Kevin and I pinballed around the house rushing the adults to finish making dinner, finish serving dinner, and then finish eating dinner. The huge pile of gifts had been relocated to under our tree and they were simply begging us to dive in!

One Christmas Eve -- too many ago to count -- Max had a great idea to help me while away the time after dinner. We called some tiny friends from church -- probably some faithful "customers' of Maxine's gum wallet -- and convinced them that Poppa's enormous bass voice could only be the voice of Santa Claus. Some of the children told "Santa" that, yes, they would go to bed on time, and of course they had been good all year. One little one was simply stunned into uncharacteristic silence, so her mother had to chime in, "Santa, Candace is nodding!"

I think we did that for at least two or three years. I don't know why we started or why we stopped, but that is still one of my most precious Christmas memories. I have very vague memories of a few of the many gifts through the years: a Barbie airplane, Merlin, some beanbag chairs -- all long gone. But I'll never forget when Poppa Max joined in and extended the magic of Christmas."


Roxanne said...

*Sigh* I am glad that I will get to hear his voice again someday. I can attest to the fact that he sounds MUCH more like Santa than even Santa does.

dad said...

Thank you.
I miss him every day.

ChristyCate said...

Ahhh.... memories of Merlin. I think he may still be in my old closet at home... (Not to say that I'm not totally touched by your precious memories of Poppa Max, though) :)

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