Monday, December 1, 2008

North Pole Memories

I haven't thought of it in forever.

My favorite Christmas decoration as a kid.

It was this tableletop scene of the North Pole. Or as least my vision of it.

It was ancient. I was the last of 6 kids with an 18 year span, & it was probably purchased in my parents early years.

It was also very likely an extreme fire hazard. (Most of my mom's house still is.)

It was the first box I would go for every year when the decorating go-ahead was given. All alone, I would struggle to get this beat up cardboard box, too big for a kid my size, out of the coal cellar (no, we didn't use coal anymore, it was the all purpose "throw it in the coal cellar" storage area) & up the steep flight of slippery stairs. I slipped all the way down one year, but kept my precious box intact.

I would place that box on the floor next to the end table where it was traditionally displayed. Then I would pile up the magazines, odd bits of paper, school photos (Depression era people, my parents never threw anything out. Anything!) and dust off the place of honor. (My mom never dusted either.)

I would carefully pull back the tattered flaps of the box and just sit & look at it for a while. I would gently reach in & touch the different pieces of the scene, as if to make sure they all survived the year in the dank recesses of the basement.

Then, I would carefully place both hands under the base, stand up, & raise my prize out of its box and set it on its table.

Then, I would just sit back on my heels and admire every inch.

First, the forest of "snow" encrusted pine trees. Various sizes, all covered in a prickly white substance that was a bit yellow with age.

Then, the path the wound through the display to the North Pole. Like the lamp post in Narnia. Buried in its forest of pine. Complete with the glitter sprinkled globe on top.

And lastly, the reindeer standing at the base of the pole, looking up in wonder. He had to be Rudolph. At least to me he was. The plastic antlers were a bit the worse for wear, a prong or two missing, & his fuzzy coat a bit worn in spots. The reindeer of my era looked vaguely like the white tailed deer in my back yard, & not the proper caribou appearance of today.

I had to touch each element, as if making sure they were all really still there.
Only then, would I risk life & limb, reach down, & plug in the power cord. There was always a little spark when it slid into the outlet. (See, I have a history of making sparks for the Holidays.) The ritual continued as I jiggled the glitter globe to make the light turn on...and spin.

That was the magic of it all.

The entire piece hummed & whirred in an effort to turn the globe & flash is beacon of red light about a small corner of the room. I would just sit, mesmerized, drawn in.

Some small memory seems to remember a song playing as the light spun. That part is a bit hazy.
One year, my mom simply could not stand the piece anymore. I was ordered to box it up & take it back to the dark little corner it came from. I don't think it has been moved from the spot since, except maybe to be pushed further back into the memories of childhood.

A lot of my growing up is like that.

Part of me wants to go rescue my North Pole & see if it still works.

But I think the memory is better served as is.

The magic will always be there.

For more holiday happenings, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room


Maven said...


I've not read this one before. I just loved this. I would have treasured that North Pole scene when I was little too.

Excellent piece of writing.

Tsquared said...

Worth waiting for.

I still think you should rescue it, but I also understand that some memories are best left undisturbed.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Thanks for visiting!

The North Pole scene has lived on beautifully in memory. You obviously cared about it very much since you even were able to bring it to life for me. I don't have anything that I remember like that from childhood or else I need to think harder.

mary beth said...

What a wonderful memory. I could see it...your description was great. Thanks so much for sharing, you put a smile on my face.

Jan and Tom's Place said...

Memories certainly are MAGIC!

Jinx said...

Thanks everyone!

I need to ask my kids what THEIR special memory is.