Christmas Memories, old and new





Linda Delaney and Jane Daffron





Admiral Harriman Nelson sat in his study on Christmas Day night.  It had been a long day, filled with family and friends, and so much joy that the Admiral thought that at one point, he wouldn’t be able to bear it. The day had gone beyond all that he could ever have  imagined. He was relaxing in his leather chair in his study, holding a glass of Glen Livet in his hand. The fire was merrily burning in the stone fireplace, the mantle draped in pine boughs and ribbon. The tree in this room, smaller than the one in the Great Room, glowed in white lights, golden and silver bead garland, and blown glass ornaments, just like its ‘big brother’. The house was filled with warmth, and the afterglow of the love and joy that had been shared that day. Harriman Nelson was at peace. With himself, and his world, and he credited his wife and son with that contentment.


Oh, he knew that the glow wouldn’t last forever, that was an unrealistic picture to say the least. However, like fine scotch, a day like today was meant to be savored and filed away in that special place that was for such special moments and feelings.


Looking around the room, he then opened a side drawer and reached in toward the back, under a stack of papers.  Pulling out a small picture frame, he looked at the pretty brunette, green eyed woman that stared back at him.  And as he did, his thoughts wandered to another time…


Memories…Katherine, it’s days like today that make me sorry that things with us ended the way that they did. I know that I wouldn’t have Karen and Sean in my life if you had not been taken from me, but there have been moments that I wondered…and blamed myself, too.  That Christmas that we shared was wonderful in its way. We had so little… I had everything tied up with giving birth to this dream… but you and I, Katherine… you and I had something special. You didn’t care how one tracked I got at times, did you? You knew how much this all meant to me and you were willing to sacrifice everything too.   If only you hadn’t been taken so brutally…  If only I hadn’t been so damn stubborn and think that I could handle things myself…  If only I had listened to… 


He sighed, taking a sip of the scotch, and continued gazing into the picture…


Remember when I came to talk to you at the grave a couple of years ago?  I didn’t know what to do…I wasn’t sure whether I ever wanted to get involved with anyone again.  I guess I was too afraid something would happen to her the way it happened to you.  But I guess I knew that the last thing you would have wanted me to do was to live with a ghost for the rest of my life. And as you can see, I haven’t.  Funny…a good friend of mine told me that I couldn’t make love to a grave…and I guess he was right.  I know you always told me I was stubborn and hard headed at times… Well, you were right.  I guess if several people hadn’t literally hit me in the head with a two by four, I’d never have this.  I would have never married Karen, and now…wonder of wonders, Katherine…this old man has a son!


He put the picture back down into the drawer and closed it.  Picking up his glass, he got up and stood at the fireplace mantle, staring down at the fire. 


Sean’s the most amazing thing in my life, Katherine!  I wish I could share him with you in some way.  I hope you can see him… I know that you and I…well, we’d talked about the possibility of children but…after what happened, I never thought I’d be married, much less this lucky, particularly at this stage of the game.


He breathed deeply, taking in the scents from the tree and the cooking that Karen had done with Maria.  Looking further into the flames, he closed his eyes for a moment, trying to just take in the whole day and all its wonders.  Then, with almost a total feeling of absolution, he sighed, almost contently, yet almost apologetically.


I know that, like so many others that have passed, that you’re safe and happy…just like Karen’s Robert.  And I do want you to know that you’re not forgotten. I am happy , Katherine. I really am.  Happy and more complete than I ever thought that I could be, especially after I lost you so long ago.


He raised his glass slightly and, as if in a mock toast, softly uttered, “Merry Christmas, Katherine,” and then sipped his scotch, continuing to stare into the fire.


He was roused from his thoughts by a gentle touch on his arm, and he found himself looking into the warm brown eyes of his wife. She kissed him lightly on the cheek.  “Daydreaming?” she asked as she slid her arm around his waist.


“No… remembering someone and thinking.”  He paused, and then returned to his leather chair as she settled herself on the floor, next to him, and leaned on his knees, looking up at him. Finally he said, “I was just remembering a long time ago…about wishes and dreams that were lost…”  An eyebrow rose slightly.  “Is he finally asleep?”


Karen Nelson nodded.  “Finally.  I think all the people and excitement was a little much for a nine month old.  Took me a little longer to get him down…but he’s finally out for the night.  Hopefully, he won’t wake up until his normal six a.m. time.”


“I hope so, too.  He was getting just a bit cranky toward the end,” he agreed.


She laughed lightly.  “Well, he does have his father’s temper…and lack of patience.”


Nelson snorted jovially.  “Oh, really?”  And then, his tone changed slightly.  “Today was an incredible day, Karen. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s meant to me.”


“Mmm, oh, I think you will…  Tell you what…I’ll just sit here and let you enlighten me,” she gently replied.  “How’s that?”


She smiled at him, a smile and face so full of love and affection that he was momentarily overwhelmed by what he saw there. He reached for her hand, grasping it and squeezing it with tight affection.  It wasn’t that long ago when he’d looked at her in the firelight of another room and realized how beautiful a woman she truly was inside.


She returned the squeeze, continuing to smile,  and said, softly, “By the way…did you see how Edith just sat holding Sean? She seemed to think he’d disappear if she let go of him.  I swear, if we don’t watch her, she’ll spoil that child rotten.”

“Yep, I know, and she was more than reluctant to share him with anyone either. Even Caitlin had a hard time getting her hands on him.  And she’s been very protective of her little brother.  Poor Edie… she’s never had a niece or nephew and isn’t too comfortable with babies to begin with…even with all that volunteering at the hospital in Boston. But you could see that she’s wild about him.”


“Well, I have to admit, for a baby, he was so good.  I daresay he was definitely better than Caitlin was on her first Christmas, considering they’re both about the same age at the time. We had to wake her up for pictures and she wasn’t exactly too happy about it.   Let us know it, too.  But all he did was smile and smile and smile. We’re very lucky, Harriman. Very lucky…in a lot of ways.”


He reached down and took her in his arms, holding her close, and finally kissing her deeply.


“Thank you, Karen Davis… for all of this… the love, the warmth, and for our son. I never understood how men got wild over ‘their boys’, but because of you , I finally understand…  Thank you for the best Christmas I’ve ever had, and ever dreamed of. Today was a day of memories for me, of years ago, and of the new ones we made today….Thank you, and Merry Christmas…”

She leaned into his arms, “And thank you, Harriman. For giving me back something I thought I’d lost years ago…the true spirit of the holiday season… the love that comes for all of us from wherever we choose to seek it. Thank you…and to paraphrase a familiar Christmas Memory…God bless us, everyone!”








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