While spring seems to have finally arrived, possibly for good this year, I find myself more interested in a glimpse of Christmas this week.

Recently a package arrived. I had not ordered anything to be delivered. So I was puzzled by the brown paper-wrapped package that came in the mail. A search for a return address quickly solved that mystery. It had come from a cousin who I had not seen in awhile, though she only lives in Bellefonte – not far at all in today’s world.

What she could possibly be sending me, to find out I’d have to open the package but that was a challenge in itself. I figured I’d grab an edge where the brown paper came together and simply pull it open. As I flipped the package on it’s side to get to an end where the paper was neatly folder, I discovered that all the folded edges of the paper wrapping had been taped down with clear packing tape. Karen, or Shine as family members lovingly call her, had made sure that no one would get into the package without working at it. While I’m sure it was to protect the contents, as I wrestled with the box, a vision of an old luggage commercial flashed through my mind. You know the one where the gorilla throws it around but it doesn’t break open no matter how it is abused.

But I would not be outdone by a paper wrapping and tape. All I needed was an edge of paper or even an end of one of the tape strips. There, found it – a hard yank and the strip of tape came loose but not enough. A few more tugs and success – access to the edges of the wrapping paper. A few rips and I was opening the end of the box to see what could be inside.

I reached inside the box and ended up grabbing a handful of memories.

The box was filled with photographs.

Some I had seen over the years, others were new to me.

These were pictures that Mom had sent to her cousin, Karen’s mom, over the years. They were photos of rwelatives, of our families together, of my brothers and I as we were growing up. It was just something that was done before the digital age – back in the 1950s and 1960s.

There was a photo of Mom as a young child dressed up in a nurse’s uniform, complete with an apron with a red cross on the bib, an armband with a cross on it as well as a hat. Mom sat outside next to a little table upon which laid a doll, the patient I’d guess. Beside her sat her dog, calmly keeping watch. Then there was the photo of Dad in his Navy uniform. Posing for a photo along a street that I suspect was in DuBois but I can’t be sure. Older cars, definitely of the 1950s era line one side of the street. Both photos are in black and white and give a glimpse into various times in my parents’ lives.

It was a different photo that drew my attention from the pile that had been in the package, though. This one was in full color and was taken in the wintertime. There’s a Christmas tree and a “fake” (read cardboard here) fireplace complete with a mantel decorated for the holidays. As I look at the mantel I see a Santa decoration that would sit on a shelf and when you would it up, Santa’s head would nod down and then back. I found that very Santa some years ago, packed away with old Christmas decorations.

My brother Jim and I are in the photo and as I’m holding on to a doll stroller with a doll in the seat, I’d guess it was Christmas Day. This was not a photograph I had seen before, at least I cannot ever remember seeing it. As I held it though, I said a prayer of thanks that Mom and Dad thought it was important to mark moments of our everyday lives with a photograph. While I’m not sure what was going on at the time this picture was snapped. (Jim looks like he is happy despite the crazy pose, while I seem to be more somber. Whether I was tired from getting up early on Christmas morning or possibly tired or having my photo taken at the time, who knows.)

Looking at this photo, it seems like a lifetime ago. In some ways, it truly is. It was the age before digital. Items like cellphones were for the Jetsons. We were happy with even a cardboard fireplace for Santa to use.

That cutout fireplace is, of course, long gone. The photo, however, will allow me to relive those times whenever I happen to pick it up.

Thanks for the memories, Shine!

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