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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


December 23, 2004

I Remember Christmases Past and...

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

My life has been so full of wonderful memories, warm friendships, and loving family that I find it next to impossible to chronicle one special remembrance.

I grew up the second oldest of four kids to the world's best parents. My Mom and Dad are my most important role models and personal influences. Christmas in my childhood home was a time of joy and warmth, fueled by their desire to make each year important.

Mom made the best cookies and treats, and made our modest - but beautiful - home a wonderland of scents and sights. One particular memory that stands out was the large Holy Bible on a gold plated bookstand on the mantle opened to the story of Christ's birth as told by the Apostle Luke.

Mom always burned a bayberry candle during the holidays. Now, some 27 years later, the scent of bayberry triggers a flood of memories so real it seems you could wipe them away with the brush of a hand.

Dad worked hard to establish a professional, political, and community reputation above reproach. Even though he was very busy, he found time to assemble a train layout that held my rapt attention throughout my childhood.

I can still see him now, on his hands and knees, fussing with a length of track or an unresponsive railroad car. As a memory test, it was a silver passenger train pulled by a diesel locomotive. It had a Pullman car, and several coach class cars. Each car was lighted, so you could see the silhouette of the passengers as it raced by.

I was an acolyte (Episcopal altar boy) throughout my youth. Our beautiful little masonry church (Christ Episcopal in Delaware City) always held a candlelight Holy Communion service on Christmas Eve.

A tall sconce with a large white candle lighted each row of pews, and we acolytes had the lighter duty. The scent of pine filled the air, with boughs of holly and ropes of pine branches wrapped throughout the building.

I may have taken many of the hundreds of Communion services I attended for granted, but those Christmas Eve nights, reading the hymnal by flickering candlelight, will be a part of me forever.

The normal communion music was replaced by Christmas carols, and even the folks who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket sounded like voices in a heavenly choir.

Those childhood Christmas memories are so wonderful you'd think it just couldn't get any better. Christmastime in the Weldon household in Brunswick rivals any of my childhood memories. The magic of bedtime on Christmas Eve as my oldest daughter Morgan's little eyes danced with the excitement of the morning to come seem as real today as they were twenty some years ago.

Looking back, I might even have enjoyed assembling Easy Bake ovens, sidewalk bikes, and Barbie houses. As I recall, Barbie had nicer digs than we did! Why do those things always come short a critical part or two?

Logic dictates that I should have read the assembly instructions before commencing work, but I'm reasonably intelligent and possess rudimentary mechanical skills. So I'd rip into the box, lay out the parts, and begin the construction.

It would take at least 20 minutes - and one or two bruises - before I'd angrily reach for the manual and realize the folly of my ingenuity. Today, having accumulated 46 years of wisdom, I now remind Rick III to read the instructions.

A tradition in our house is to put up our tree (fake, but pretty) the evening of the first Sunday in December. Once the tree is up, we pour a mug of eggnog and pass around a plate of cookies. All of the lights on the main floor are turned off, and we sit drinking eggnog by the light of the tree.

My middle daughter has moved into a townhouse in Brunswick. She's only about an eighth of a mile away, but it seems like the other side of the moon. She comes over for dinner on Sundays, and she was there to help with the tree a few weeks ago.

Amy and I are dealing with separation anxiety, but Cassie is a sweet and smart kid, so we don't really have too much to worry about. All things considered, we have so many blessings in our lives that I cannot imagine complaining about anything!

Amy and I have spent more Christmases together than we did apart. I guess that has to be my best Christmas memory, the love of my partner, best friend, and the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Another significant blessing is the gift of friendship. I feel a little like George Bailey, and I have riches beyond imagination because I have so many wonderful friends. Whether through politics, church, work, school, or play, the path my life has taken has allowed me to make lifelong friendships and lasting relationships.

This special time of year gives me a wonderful opportunity to say thanks, and to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



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