Remembering Light


winter light
winter light

It’s late December. Mid-afternoon and the sky already dark. Snow still coming down. It started before dawn.

I’ve been thinking about emotion and memory.

What is memory anyways? It’s nothing solid. Like all in life, it changes. I can tell that my memories move like a story told over and over. The essential points stay the same, but the details shift. Am I remembering more clearly when this happens, or am I filling in gaps, making things whole, putting clothes on the bones of what I recall?

I am remembering the Christmas Eve I was in Grade Five. My sister and I were given night lights in the shape of genie lamps. All other gifts were abandoned as we carried our lamps around the house, Aladdins in nightgowns and slippers. I remember the two of us, whispering and giggling in the dark cave of the hallway outside our bedrooms. We had turned off the hallway light, and all was now mysterious and spooky as we moved around, genie lamps in hand, their blue plastic light covers casting shadows we couldn’t recognize.

This I remember clearly. What I don’t recall with any certainty is whether my lamp was the pink and black one and Carrie’s the aqua blue and grey one, or the other way around. When I picture us in the December dark, I can see either lamp in my hand. I remember them both.

I don’t know what happened to my genie lamp. I do know I loved it, played with it, kept it on the floor by my bed. I suppose I eventually outgrew it, and it was lost deep in the big cardboard toy box Carrie and I shared. Or perhaps, when I tired of it, it was given away to a younger cousin or to a daughter of one of my parents’ friends.

What does not shift in this memory of light in the dark, is the feeling of fun and play, laughter and enjoyment, friendship and love with my sister. I feel all of this now as I write. You can’t see me, but I am all smile like a Cheshire cat.

Here in this memory is joy and light and love.

When I am afraid and in the dark, all I need do is remember Carrie and me in that dark hallway, playing with the light of our genie lamps, giggling and whispering. If I trust myself enough to allow this memory to fill me, body, mind, heart, and spirit, I can see my way here, now, and walk myself out of fear and the dark, back into light.

My mom-in-law, who does not know this story, found a genie lamp in a garage sale. She bought it and gave it to me. It sits here on my work table, a treasure among treasures. It is exactly like the one in my memory. Aqua blue and grey, like my sister’s lamp, or mine—that part does not matter. To my eyes, it is the colour of light and play and laughter and love.


I first posted ‘Remembering Light’ last February.  As we move through the world’s celebrations of light and towards the Winter Solstice, I wish us all light and play and laughter and love.

Postcard #7 – Inheritance

Christmas Eve

I am looking at a photograph.  It is Christmas Eve.  I am three years old.  Dressed in a red velvet dress with three white buttons, white tights wrinkled at the knees, and scuffed moccasins.  There is a brand new tricycle in front of me.  Chrome and fat black tires and sky blue painted metal.  Wide blue seat and black pedals, waiting for me to climb on and GO!

Behind me, sitting on my Nana’s sectional couch, looking at the camera and smiling, are my Mom, Nana, Dad, two of my uncles and one of my aunts.  My Papa is taking the picture.  Family.

I don’t remember this specific Christmas Eve, but I do remember my tricycle.  I can hear the crunch of the gravel under its wheels as I ride it down our driveway, feel the push of the pedals against the sneakers on my feet.  Feel the pull on the handlebars as I manoeuver over the grassy middle hump in the driveway.  If I go too slow, I’ll get stuck halfway and have to put my feet on the ground to push me and my tricycle over to the other side.

I know the people, my family, around me in this old photo.  Know and feel and recall them the way I recall my tricycle.  I know the sound of their steps on the floor, the feel of their arms around me, the push and pull of our time spent together.

December 61I hear people talk of inheritance—money, objects, house and land.

My inheritance is right here in my hands, in this photograph of a Christmas Eve.  These people, my memories, this is my inheritance.  The remembered feel of hands in hands.  The remembered sound of voices, talk, and laughter.  What I have experienced and learned in the embrace of my days with them.

This is my inheritance.  Love.  Connection.  A place to stand.  Memories that carry me into happiness, peace, acceptance of my life just as it is.

Thank you for these gifts.


Thanks to my brother Paul and my Uncle Allan for collecting the family slides and photos, and digitizing them so they can be shared.