I’ve been wishing the Ghost of Christmas Past would pay me a visit. Not really. I would never wish for a visit from a ghost. But the thought does make for a good opening line, doesn’t it?
It would be nice, though, if my dreams could whisk me back to some of the most special times in my life. Especially if I could remember them when I wake up.
I’ve been thinking about when I was a kid since reading something from one of my uncles on Facebook yesterday. And I’ve been remembering Christmases past, the same as everyone else who saw the post. Not just that though. There were picnics and pot lucks. Hot summer afternoons swimming and water skiing. Softball games and countless other reasons to just hang out together.
When I was a kid, I had two sets of grandparents and fifteen aunts and uncles, not counting the ones who married in to both sides of the family. Technically, I had four more aunts, and another uncle, but they were from a grandfather’s remarriage – and those kids were a lot younger than my parents, more like cousins. That’s how I always think of them anyway.
And lets not even delve too deeply into the cousin situation. There are like three generations of us. I was in the middle group, and never particularly close to the oldest ones. But I did make a fair amount of money babysitting their kids when I was a teenager. I was never really close to the youngest ones either because when you’re a teen, and even grown when some of them are still being born, you don’t usually form the closer relationships like you do with the ones who are in your age group.
But everyone is still family. It’s the grandparents, aunts, and uncles (and the older cousins) who teach you that there are grownups – other than your parents – that you can trust. And the cousins you grow up with are often the best friends you’ll ever have, aside from your siblings.
I don’t think my siblings even know I have a website, or a blog, and that’s probably a good thing – because they’d probably want to wring my neck for sharing this photo. But we were pretty cute back then – even me. I’m the one in the upper left corner, giving one of my brothers the side-eye, for some reason.
It makes me sad this Christmas, as it does every Christmas, to think of the ones who aren’t with us anymore. It makes me even sadder though when I think of how busy the rest of us are. I know we’ve all grown up and have families of our own. I know there are jobs, homes, hobbies, friends, and many other things going on in our lives.
But in the same way I miss the family members we’ve lost, I also miss the kids I used to play with. The kids I used to babysit. And the older cousins I always looked up to and wanted to be like.
Time passes so fast once you’ve left childhood behind. All you have to do is blink a couple of times and you realize it’s been a long, long time since you’ve seen some of the people you’ve loved all your life. You also realize you don’t really know them anymore either. And at the rate life flies by, you probably never will again.
The song below popped into my head when I sat down to write this. I don’t know why. It’s never been one of my favorites. It’s not on any of my playlists. And if it came on the radio while I was driving, I’d probably start searching for something I like better. But it seems to fit my melancholy mood tonight.