Christmas memories are oftentimes so clear. So powerful. So immense.
These memories quicken our senses.
And if it is true that to be able to enjoy one’s memories is to live twice, then my Christmas Angel has allowed me to live over and over again… and again.
Each Christmas, when I unwrap my Angel, swirls of colors and voices and heavenly vibrations enter my head and my home.
It is quite magical.
This is her story.
My Dad was a guy who loved to fix things. He was good at it. He had lots of tools… not too organized, but he knew where everything was. I especially remember the old, heavy metal cases that he had rescued from work at the Navy base, and sometimes even from the side of the road. These cases became storage for his wealth, his tools.
I did a lot of puttering around with my Dad. Interestingly enough, my two brothers didn’t. They loved my Dad as much as I did, but the rescuing and fixing gene was lost on them. Ah yes, they loved to HAVE things fixed for them… like my Mom (yes Mom, you know it’s true!).
So one Christmas season, a few days before Christmas, my Dad needed something or other from our local Benny’s, the place we went to get all kinds of fixing things back in the late 60′s. You know, before Home Depot and Lowe’s. I guess I should give a little shout out to Benny’s here, because we still have our good old Benny’s stores here in Rhode Island. Ah, Benny’s… the place where my precious Christmas Angel memory was born.
With me tagging along, my Dad found what he was looking for. And then he spotted, on one of those innocuous discount tables, a beautiful little angel. She was dressed in a lovely white tulle skirt that had brilliant gold sequins sewn across the bottom. Her wings were the same white tulle, with two sparkling gold sequins sewn high on each side. Her center was a small golden globe. And her arms were white pipe cleaners with lights on the ends that folded toward heaven. Her neck was wrapped with a golden tinsel-type wrap.
But I think it was her face that captured my Dad’s heart. She was so petite. So innocent. Her beautiful blue eyes were looking to the left. Her cheeks were bowls of cherries. And in her blonde hair was a golden bow.
And even though she was plastic… she was exquisite.
But her lights didn’t work. Neither the light in her center, nor the lights at her hands. Hence, her place at the discount table.
Well, my Dad picked her up and said, “I’m going to take her home and fix her lights.”
I was pretty much like, “OK, Dad.” Never knowing or imagining that the moment at hand would permanently be imprinted on my life. In my heart. In my soul.
Well, we bought her. I think she cost less than a dollar. We brought her home. My Dad rewired her. Fixed her. Lit her up like the angel she was destined to be. Then we placed her on top of our Christmas tree.
And she sat atop our tree for many years. Each year as we unpacked her, I thought about how my Dad fixed things. How careful he was. How caring and wonderful.
And then my Dad passed away suddenly in August of 1975.
That first Christmas brought lots of tears as I unpacked the Christmas Angel. The reminiscence was almost too much to bear. But as my Mom watched, I placed our Christmas Angel ever so carefully atop our tree that year.
By the next Christmas, I was married and living in a home of my own. I must note here that my Dad never met the man who would become my husband. But my dad had heard me talk of this man “Barry” during my visits to see him in the hospital after his major heart attack. In this sense, I know for sure that my Dad had given his seal of approval to this wonderful man in my life.
My Mom had also sold her home. And all I needed and wanted were the Christmas decorations.
And this is how I came to have the Christmas Angel.
And on each of the past 31 Christmases, since my Dad passed away, I have placed the Christmas Angel atop my tree. Each time, I see my Dad’s face… his strong and caring hands… his easy manner and beautiful smile.
And although her lights have not worked for some time now, my Christmas Angel still dazzles the room with the brilliant light that comes from that place where memories are born.
Was the memory born at Benny’s? Perhaps.
But I know that my cherub becomes brighter and brighter each time I tell the story of the Christmas Angel. And how my Dad rescuing her allows her to bring him home to us each and every Christmas.
Yes, it is magic. Heavenly magic.