Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Our Last Christmas
AJ Robinson

Almost seventeen years ago, I carried my daughter down the hall of our apartment for her first Christmas. She was all of about seven months old. The day meant little to her.

For my wife and I, this was a truly special day. It was our first Christmas, as a family.

That Christmas, my daughter got many simple toys and some clothes. The truly special items, of the day, were the decorations on the tree. My wife and I, a young couple, had a tree covered mostly in simple ornaments. There glass bulbs, of varying colors, and such. The special decorations were those that celebrated the first Christmas, for a new family, and those for that year, as baby's first Christmas.

In a few years, things changed. We added more and more special tree ornaments. Each year we picked a focus: a favourite movie, moving into our new home and so on. Our decoration decisions reflect our life. Once, when my daughter was a toddler, she helped to decorate the tree, the lower branches, which anyone could tell just by looking. Her decorating skills, at the time, were, well, rather underdeveloped.

She improved with time.

For one of those early Christmases, we got my daughter a Little Tykes Kitchen Set. Yes, I know, completely politically incorrect; we were encouraging dangerous stereotyping. In fact, one of my brothers said, Alexa has too many girlie-girl toys. You should get her some toy tools. We did and she didnt much care for them.

By the time Alexa was an expert at trimming the top of the tree, we had a great many fancy ornaments. No longer was our tree plain and ordinary; we had decorations depicting Harry Potter, Disney, Loony Tunes and Star Trek, which I like. We also had special decorations to commemorate special events in our lives. There was our first house and me getting my book published, Alexa playing basketball, dancing and taking up fencing, and so on.

This year, Alexa is seventeen, and a senior in high school. Under the tree will be many gifts to help her in college. Among them will be one very special item, the latest Nancy Drew computer game.

The Nancy Drew game is something she and I have played since she was in second grade. Its our special father-daughter time. I know that, in the coming years, she will come home for Christmas from college, but things will never quite be the same; after all, shell be out on her own then. Honestly, I know, this is our last Christmas.

After college, Alexa will find her own way in the world; perhaps starting a family and setting up her own Christmas tree, with its decorations. Some of those special ornaments that now hang on our tree will move on to hers, among them, one very, very special decoration. Long ago, on that first Christmas that my wife and I shared, my dear aunt Marny sent us an ornament that had belonged to her parents, my grandparents; a clear glass teardrop, which had been a wedding present to them in years gone by. One day, I shall pass on to Alexa that ornament.

Its nothing special, merely an old decoration. Yet, like those computer games we played together, its not about the object, its about what it symbolizes, what memories it summons up.

When the day comes that I join my grandparents, I would like to think that a piece of my love remain, with Alexa, in all these little items Ive left to her. After all, being a struggling writer insures that I shall not leave her wealth not of a monetary form, but you have to wonder, which legacy is best: love and memories or profit and assets.

Christmas is truly the time to see the answer to that query.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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