If you were a photographer who was given the chance to go back in history to capture a Christmas (Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/New Year’s Day) photograph, where would you go and what year would it be?
I’ve been mulling over this on and off all day, as I read others comments, wrote letters to soldiers stationed in Korea and Iraq, worked on some fiction, and really, I’m at a loss for anything historical or particularly poignant with the possible exception of the first performance of Silent Night, on a cold night in Germany, with a guitar for accompaniment.
For a moment, I can almost see it, and then my mind snaps back to reality, and I think about my favorite Christmases, and what snapshots I wish I could have, and the thing is – I have them already, on film and in my memory – all the times my mother made miraculous Christmases on no money, all the times she filled the house with love and magic, even when it was just the two of us, and the nearest relatives were across the country. I remember my ideal Christmas, spent with Aunt Peg and her son Jay and his wife Allison, our first year in California, when they heard we were alone for Christmas and insisted we come visit them immediately – for that night I knew what it was like to have sisters and brothers and a huge family, and for one night I loved it, but I was grateful to get home to my own life, too.
I wouldn’t mind a photograph of my first Christmas with Fuzzy – not the part with his family, which was actually quite nice, in spite of my shyness, but the ride back to his apartment, after , through snow-covered prairie, under starry wintry skies. We pulled off the road and made love in the cadillac under pine trees and the stars. Cadillacs, by the way, do not retain heat terribly well.
I’d love to have had a photo of the first time I hosted Christmas Eve for my family, when my grandmother was still lucid, and for that matter, alive, and we melted the pewter sugar bowl when we stuck a second log in the wood stove. I remember the laughter and the warmth, but not the faces.
Mostly, though, I’d have loved to see a picture of my grandfather’s first Christmas at home after being overseas for so many of the early years of his marriage to my grandmother, because I’m sure that was special and tender.