Anyone I’ve ever met has a memory that they share, which gives a clue as to who they are and what’s important to them. The wonderful part of remembering is the process it takes to begin and end a story that becomes better with time.
I remember this season in particular. Perhaps its because that no matter what was going on, our family would always be together for the holiday season. Thanksgiving kicked it off with Christmas around the corner and finally New Years Eve (which is more of a grown-up holiday) with its champagne, music, and of course the spectacular food.
When I was knee high to a grasshopper I would climb our Oak tree in the backyard to the very top of that tree and cut down the mistletoe right before the Christmas season began. After I felt I had enough of this beautiful parasite which represented romance, fertility, and vitality I would wrap the mistletoe in red ribbon. Though it was created by bird feces and poison aside, it still remindes me of Christmas.
I would then take a box and fill it with the mistletoe wrapped in red ribbon and go door to door selling each bundle for $.75. After a full day of going door to door I ended up at Petrines supermarket selling whatever amount I had left. A full day’s worth of work would net me around $15.00. I would then use that money to buy Christmas presents for my mom, dad, and grandmother.
Remembering that process gave the Christmas season a very special meaning. Because I worked for the money and then purchased the presents with whatever budget I had, it seemed there was an added feeling of accomplishment. Climbing the tree and putting together the little bundles of mistletoe was just part of the rituals that became a holiday tradition.
Putting up the Christmas lights with my dad, buying the real Christmas tree with my parents, and acting as Santa on Christmas Eve, became a part of my very special holiday memories. My mom would make a shrimp salad with home-made thousand island dressing and a home-made onion soup. This was the traditional meal we’d always have for Christmas Eve. That meal became a “Jenkins” tradition as much as anything else. Remembering fondly those times long ago brings the moment back within a fingers reach as though it was only yesterday.
One Christmas my dad and I performed with a string quartet, the Hallelujah Chorus in a small church in Novato California. My dad and I both played the violin. I remember how nervous I was to play next to my dad who was such an accomplished musician. My dad had played the violin before the Supreme Court Justices and several presidents, and here I was a novice with a love for music I inherited from my parents. The concert went off without a hitch and I realized how much I loved to perform.
I remember the many music teachers I had along the way including my dad. My dad didn’t have the patience required to teach me and so that duet was short lived. However, my love for music blossomed, and along the way I learned more about music and more about myself than I would have without that practice and discipline required to succeed.
Each time I hear certain tunes performed by specific artisits I think of my parents. Both my mom and dad were accomplished musicians. My mom played the piano and would accompany me when I would compete for a chair in different orchestras. Sometimes I’d play recitals, or just play in front of my parents friends after a barbacue or special dinner. My mom and dad were always there playing the tunes for their friends they all grew up listening to.
The laughter and the love is what I remember the most. I was blessed to grow up with two loving parents that treasured me as much as I did them. This is what I remember as I look back.
Now I am the age of my parents, later in life. Time really does fly but with it we can sometimes slow down the clock to capture that memory so dear to our hearts. I guess life is about beginnings and endings. In-between is the recollection of moments that we capture for a nanosecond. Like a bubble we blow into the wind and watch it disappear into thin air, simply knowing what we saw and what we felt, enriching the best part of who we are.