Posted by: alexhickey | December 23, 2016

Christmas Time Travel©

Time travel is a wonderful gift to human kind. I don’t mean the type of time travel found in science fiction films where you haul on your boots and walk out the door into a world twenty years into the future.  I’m thinking of that which we unwittingly engage ourselves in at some point in the month of December each year.  It isn’t consciously acted upon or purchased at a kiosk in the shopping mall.  It creeps into your consciousness when you are sitting at the kitchen table and snowflakes drift lazily by the window; when amidst the incessant commercial noise of the radio you hear a familiar comforting chord or melody; when you encounter the smell of freshly baked cookies or the instant you pick up a tree ornament which so ordinary looking to another, brings on a rush of emotion and memories.  That’s the time travel on my mind.

Sometimes it lasts but an instant.  Then there are those occasions when you are carried along on a roller coaster through time tumbling and twirling through the years to a particular Christmas morning, a treasured long lost toy, a warm hug from someone whose name is rarely mentioned anymore, a friend with whom you felt you could share anything, to a place your feet haven’t trodden for years.  Memories flood into consciousness and suddenly the world around you disappears and you are there in that moment savouring the smell of a freshly cut fir tree, tangy citrus, cinnamon and cloves.  Torn multi-coloured paper festooned with little toy drums, decorated trees and Santa Claus heads leave a crisp sound in the air unheard on any other day.  The air of a normally cold room aglow with excitement, anticipation and sheer joy is transformed into a bubble of warmth.

Gone are the feelings of trepidation around whether the gift under the tree is what you really wanted Santa Claus to deliver.  Gone too are the minor conflicts with siblings or parents, the tiredness of being awake for most of the night listening to every aberrant sound and awareness of the cold floor beneath your feet.  No longer is naughty or nice relevant.  At this moment the world has moved on and the sins of all days past are forgiven and forgotten, replaced by something more intangible and amorphous than anything else in our daily lives.

Off to Cut a Christmas Tree [click image to enlarge]

The seven wonders of the world do not include human memories among them yet of all the capacities we share, memory is the one thing which emphatically connects us with our past, with all those whose lives we’ve encountered, with all the places our hearts have travelled and the mosaic of experiences which sit behind the name our families and friends call us.  Though it resides within and is accessible around the clock, the effect of little things which trigger memories at Christmas time seem to be more vivid, more pronounced and more deeply laden with positive emotions for most of us.  Through them we travel across years and generations uncovering long-stored recollections of people, events and places we’ve shared with others in our lifetime.

It is said we carry within us three and sometimes four generations of memories; those engendered by our own lived experiences, those shared with and from our parents lives, and those passed on to us through our grandparents were we fortunate enough to know them.  A fourth comes from storytelling which can reach back centuries in oral cultures.  Through this complex collection we find the key to time travel and even for the briefest, most fleeting passage of a moment we are taken back somewhere familiar and unexpected; somewhere which now can be worn as a warm scarf about one’s neck, a touch through time more special than words can express.

It does tempt me to wonder why this is prevalent as we lead up to Christmas.  Is this what folks mean by the Christmas Spirit?  Is it a thread of consciousness brought on by melancholy or a genuine human capacity to step backward into our own life lived, to indeed travel through time?  For each of us this begs the question of what triggers this and where does such travel take us.  For me it’s back to St. Jacques, the little town which witnessed my birth and which has nurtured growth throughout my life.  Oftentimes the trigger is music.  Hearing Jim Reeves sing a song written by Vaughn Horton back in 1949 evokes rich memories, not of Christmas Cards but of the emotional dimensions of the season, particularly the line “ Yes, I’m always sentimental ’round this time.”.

Then there are the singers and songwriters of our own homeland who have captured the essence of many aspects of what Christmas means to Newfoundlanders wherever they reside in time or place. Songs like Christmas in the Harbour by the Punters, The Mummer’s Song by Simani,  Hello Mom and Dad by A. Frank Willis, A Children’s Winter by Ryan’s Fancy, Christmas Eve in St. John’s by Darcy Broderick, Heading Home for Christmas by The Irish Descendants, and of course I’ll Be Home Christmas Eve written by Ron Hynes and sung here by The Ennis Sisters.

A Children’s Winter by Ryan’s Fancy

I’ll Be Home Christmas Eve

The Mummers Song (Excerpted from CBC’s A Fortune Bay Christmas)

 

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Responses

  1. Hi Alex: What a wonderful Christmas!Thank You and Merry Christmas


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