Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snow and Angels

Once upon a time, we had a giant monster of a snow storm on Christmas Eve. That particular year holds one of my most treasured memories. My family, the seven of us, lived in an big, drafty Victorian house just outside of Philadelphia. We were a noisy bunch of Italian, Irish Catholics so Christmas was a holy, magical season that went on and on. We ate cookies, lasagne and honeycakes that my grandmother brought from Brooklyn. Cold weather and warm jackets. Laughing and many relatives. Presents and prayers in front of the manger on Christmas morning.

There was a turret on the second floor of that rambling old house; a little round room that the hallway emptied into. There were three windows in that little room. In each of those windows there was a little candle on Christmas. If I stretched my arms as wide as they could reach now, I could just barely touch the walls. It was a Rapunzel room. Anyway, I stood in that room on that Christmas Eve. The windows seemed very high and from that angle, I can still see out. It was deep black and white outside with snow climbing higher all around. All of the lights were low with only the Christmas candles in all of the windows. I could hear the dull roar of Christmas going on below me.  A warm glow. I watched the snowflakes, thick and soft, swirling and blowing around me - all warm and safe. I can still feel the drafts of cold wind as they hit the windows, rattling and quaking and cold. It was, indeed, like being inside a snow globe. That quiet moment seems now to have lasted forever. What could have been more exciting to a little kid than a huge snow on Christmas Eve?

I was too young to go to Midnight Mass (MIDNIGHT!), though that was my heart's hugest desire at that moment in time. Midnight Mass was an exotic thing that the older kids and the parents, uncles and aunts attended. I didn't know then that after Midnight Mass there was a big breakfast that continued into the wee hours - another story all in itself.

Christmas morning started very early, I'm sure. There was the hurried prayer in front of the manager, lest we forget what the big party was all about and then, the pocket doors into the livingroom were opened and - paradise! A room filled with toys of every sort: dolls in little chairs, erector sets and lincoln logs, teddy bears. It was a toy store and we were in ecstacy.

My grandmother was in charge of taking me and my brother to Mass that morning. We were stuffed into jackets, hats, mittens and boots - you remember how that was? You could barely move your arms and legs. We went out into the bright blue and white morning to our church just a block away.

And OH! the snow so deep and crunchy with white wisps teasing the surface. My grandmother told us to walk behind her as she broke the snow and then we were to hop our feet into the holes she'd made. I still vividly recall her shiny black boots placing themselves with great authority deep into the snow. Crunch, slide, hop. So intent on her feet, I don't recall my own. Just those black rubber boots breaking the surface, disappearing and then rising up again. It seems now that I can see my Grandmother, myself and my little brother from high above: our heads down against the wind and hands in our pockets, hopping along with furrows forming behind us like the wake of a boat.

So it snowed here last weekend. A big snow and it brought back that memory. Although to be completely honest, I think of that big snow every year at this time.


Joanne Huffman said...

Love the painting, love the Christmas memory and I hope your Christmas is Merry and Bright and I send you wishes for an Artful New Year.

jan said...

What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. Love your blog & your art.

Diana Trout {} said...

Thanks for your comments! I'm so glad you enjoyed this post.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful memory! My hubby and I were blessed this Christmas with my two daughters (who had fallen away from the faith) going to Midnight Mass with hubby and our son this year! I was unable to go (recovering from surgery), but watched the Pope's Mass on TV. I was totally surprised to see our pastor helping distribute Holy Eucharist! Such a blessed Christmas this year!!

Amy said...

wow....the little round room. and the snow. i have not thought of it in years. what a wonderful memory, nanny. thank you.