Friday, December 5, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Past?

By Lonnie Cruse

Recently hubby was shifting things around in his closet (he calls it cleaning the closet) and found a small box of old pictures.

Shuffling through, I came across an early 50's picture of a decorated Christmas tree sitting in front of the two living room corner windows in the house where I grew up. Back then the tree was always real and always covered in tinsel. My step-mom had a friend who hung each strand perfectly. I was no longer allowed to help with the tinsel once my ability to toss a large handful at the top branches was discovered.

Another picture in the box was of me holding the two foot tall doll I got for Christmas in 1952. That year I was nine, the same age my youngest grandson is now. As mom snapped the picture an unknown couple in the background walked down the sidewalk of the small motel next door to us. Both are dressed in perfect examples of early 50's fashion, except the man isn't wearing a hat. I love looking at them, wondering who they were, where they were going that long ago Christmas day in Las Vegas, Nevada. To visit friends or family? To lunch? To a casino? Moments in time.

I love mystery, but I also love reading science fiction. The ability science fiction offers us to do things we can't really do. At least not yet. I often wonder what it would be like to be able to visit the past. To step into an old photograph, into that setting, and see what's going on. Or step through an antique mirror and see the people who looked at their reflection when the mirror was new. What would that be like? What would I see? And would my being there change anything for those in the past?

One thing I've learned through watching modern day forensic programs is that killers always take something with them from the crime scene (even if they don't realize it, like a carpet fiber or a strand of hair from the victim onto their clothes) and they always leave something (carpet fibers from their own home or vehicle, their own hair strands, etc.) So wouldn't it be nearly impossible to visit the past and not leave something of ourselves or take something away, thus changing things? I dunno.

But I do know I'd love to be able to visit the past. Maybe that Christmas day in 1952 with the coveted doll in my hands, Santa having come through for me yet again. Or my wedding day? A day when my boys were little enough to sit on my lap? So many days. Maybe even a difficult day, to comfort or be comforted by a loved one?

Sigh, but then I'd likely be spending all my days in the past, entirely missing the present. And the future. Ah, maybe that's why we can't visit the past, where we know pretty much what happened? Because we need to be here, living the day? Well, it was just a thought.

May your present be full of lovely presents and your future be bright. Meanwhile, why not pull out an old album and spend an hour visiting the past? But brace yourself, your hair styles and clothing were pretty different back then.

P. S. A special Merry Christmas wish to Francie T. who lived across the street from me and who received a similar doll that year.


Anonymous said...

Love the tree, Lonnie! My mother has always been afraid of fire. So when I was 6 (my brother 4) we got one one of those non-flammable aluminum trees. My brother never remembered the real ones, so Christmas to him has always been an aluminum tree. His wife insists they have a green, artificial (pre-lit) tree. He still laments that she tossed out his three (acquired--just in case) aluminum trees after they moved the last time. (I've got a green artificial tree, too! Never liked the aluminum one.)

Lonnie Cruse said...

Don's mom always had the aluminum tree too, and the spinning light. So did we for a few years. We use an artificial tree now so I can keep it up longer.

Anonymous said...


Sandra Parshall said...

I always loved the Star Trek episodes where Kirk and Spock traveled back in time to prevent some disaster. It's fascinating to think how altering one event, maybe a seemingly inconsequential chance meeting or decision, might change the course of history. Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, of course, is given a lesson in how petty, mean-spirited actions can cause enormous harm.

Don't go back to the past, Lonnie. You might find yourself wanting to change all sorts of little things, and in doing so you might make the rest of your life unravel! We are where we are for a reason, and every step we've ever taken has been leading us to this spot.

Bill McCleery said...

Interesting post! My wife and I both grew up on the Eastside of Indianapolis, and we met when I was 24 and she was several years younger. In talking about our childhood and teen-age years, we've realized both our families frequented some of the same exact places (and her family some of the places I worked as a teen-ager). We almost certainly crossed paths numerous times as kids. Wouldn't it be neat to be able to rewind a "video archive" of all our past encounters and watch together the times when that happened? "Look, I'm standing in line right next to you," etc. Oh well. Fun to imagine.

Julia Buckley said...

What a fun post! I love the pictures, and I've often thought about the notion of where I would go, or WHEN I would go, if I could time travel. Some perfect day would indeed be a good destination.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Wow, great comments/suggestions everyone! Thanks for stopping by!