One of my favorite Christmas stories is one my aunt used to tell about her childhood in a country town. She attended a one-room school in her community, and during the holidays all the year’s activity took place in the school building.
In early November when the school day ended, they would begin to practice the school play. This was a big deal because the play had to be a big one that would provide a role for the 15 students from grades one through eight. The teacher always selected the play, then wrote in parts for those who didn’t have a role.
In December, the big activity would be the food auction. Each family would prepare a favorite meal and auction it off to the community. The money earned from the auction was what the families used to buy Christmas toys for the children. After the food auction, the children would make candies for the candy sale which they marketed to the whole town.
The biggest event of all was, of course, the downtown Christmas parade featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, who rode through the streets handing out candy. What fascinated us most about the stories was the amazing way the whole town pulled together to make Christmas special for all the children.
Those stories lingered in my aunt’s memories all her life. Every year she pulled out her journal, and almost always there was a note or an old Christmas ornament folded in the pages, little reminders of a time long since past.
Whenever I doubt the importance of little memories, I always think of my aunt covered in her favorite quilt, rummaging through her journal in search of a piece of her past.
For a long time, I’ve kept a copy of her journal. It’s a way of reminding myself that days and years go by in such a cluster that things you want to remember are too easily forgotten. I try to remember how important it is to keep a piece of the past nearby just as a way of remembering.
In my aunt’s day, time seemed to go a lot slower. When there was a big event, it seemed to take her weeks or even months to make up her mind about it. When I don’t have my thoughts together in few days, I get impatient and am ready to forget the whole thing. Sometimes it feels as if I have lived my entire life in 24 hours.
Still, sometimes when I think back I remember little things, tiny memories that somehow got stuck in the midst of weighty problems. After awhile I pull them out and look at them again. That’s how I know that everything doesn’t go away. Except for maybe a little while.
Rose M. Nolen writes a weekly column for the Missourian. You can join the conversation with her by calling 882-5734 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.