The Ghosts Of Christmas Past

- jim Young

“Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” - Joni Mitchell

Tomorrow will be the first day of December, but Christmas has already arrived at our home in the little village of Loring in Northern Ontario. In fact, Christmas arrived a couple of weeks ago here with the official lighting of Santa’s Stable to announce the arrival of my favourite season.

The older I get, the faster time passes it seems, so I like to extend Christmas for as long as I can to make sure I get the most out of it for each remaining season I have left.

Just as all things do for everyone, Christmas has changed for me over the years. Some traditions have been passed down from generation to generation while some traditions have fallen by the wayside. Still other, newer traditions have been created that will generate fond memories of their own in years to come, for however long they may come.

Sometimes I wistfully long to relive some of the old traditions. 

So I do. 

Mostly, but not exclusively, I achieve this through the sites and sounds that provoke and tease my forgotten memories, clear away the dust cobs and bring them to the forefront of my mind.

From the time we get up in the morning, until just before we retire in the evening, our stereo in the Club House pipes Christmas music throughout the house. It’s an eclectic collection of almost 300 Christmas songs and carols ranging from the likes of Spike Jones, Burl Ives, Gene Autry and Barry Gordon through some of the more traditional artists like Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole to Elvis, The Beach Boys, Alvin & The Chipmunks and onto Bruce Springsteen, Bachman Turner Overdrive and yes, even Mariah Carey.

Some of these recordings were carefully preserved from the original 78s and LPs I would play as a child complete with the ticks, hisses and skips that accompanied the fragile media on which they were recorded while others have been remixed, remastered and bootlegged from the internet with digital perfection.

Each note, each sound each bit or byte invokes its own memory. 

To enhance this trip down memory lane I have complemented the Christmas music with a slideshow on our ClubHouse Television, consisting of over 1,200 Christmas pictures taken from my past. It too runs from morning to night. Each photo is a literal snapshot of a single 1/60th of a second or less, captured to preserve not just the moment, but the essence of that moment, allowing me to relive that experience. It’s a “do-over” from my past..

Many photos include family and friends who are no longer with us. Some are recently passed and others, long passed. It doesn’t matter, they are all missed the same. Many others are still with us but as we all take our own paths in life, we may no longer see them much anymore. 

These brief moments in time extend from my youth in the 1950s to yesterday. 

A select few even go back to as early as the 1800s to allow a brief glimpse at the Christmases of relatives we never even had the opportunity to meet and know. 

In our life of mostly solitude that My Shirley and I have chosen in our retirement, although there may just be two plates at our dinner table on Christmas Day, we are never alone at Christmas for there’s a non-stop Christmas Party going on in our ClubHouse that is well attended by our Ghosts of Christmases Past. 

At any given moment we can drop by the ClubHouse to have a visit with our guests as we step back in time to relive the experiences we so fondly miss and the people we have loved and will continue to love.

Sometimes a picture will catch our attention as we pass by the ClubHouse while attending to our chores and sometimes, even in the midst of these chores, we will sit awhile to reminisce. 

Beginning on December 13th My Shirley and I will celebrate “The Twelve Drinks Of Christmas”, one of our newer traditions in which we raise a glass in honour to a lost loved one every day leading up to Christmas Day. As we toast their memory we will listen to the music, enjoy the slideshow and maybe even dance to the days gone by.

- 30 -


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