By Leah HernandezIt seemed much more funny than strange to me that whenever I ask someone what their favourite Christmas memory is, I would be greeted with more than a mouthful of tales compared to the single short story I share when I am asked the same question. But despite my lacking the ability to go hours upon hours, entertaining those around me about my childhood memories of Christmas (or otherwise) and all its excitement, I managed very well to stroll down memory lane in my alone time and reflect on what I describe as not just my favourite memory but the most beautiful one that was just waiting to be unlocked.I was not only taken back to the pleasant and heady scent of fresh homemade bread and pepper-pot, or me, wrapped up in my blanket, shivering from the ice-cold rainy weather, but also to the warmth of a family’s love. These were just the start of memories that came rushing back from a special December 25, in my childhood years.I was around seven or eight years old during that time (I can’t remember the exact age), but I vividly remember waking up to heavy rainfall and my mother’s soft voice saying something along the lines of “it’s time to prepare for church”, followed by my father’s deep manly voice outside my room. I then recollected that my natural senses kicked in when I got up and my nose caught a smell of our traditional Guyanese breakfast – homemade bread and the tempting pepperpot. But these were nothing compared to when I began reminiscing the way my brothers and sister’s sleepy reluctant voices sounded when my mother moved to their rooms to get them up and ready for our Christmas morning church service. My siblings and I had to eventually get out of bed, take cold baths and get dressed for the service which normally started around 06:00h. And for the reason of our church being quite a long distance away, we had to travel by taxi, which made us even sleepier with the cold morning breeze.However, when it came to me recollecting our church proceedings, my memory got a little foggy (which was strange), and I couldn’t remember how my family and I spent our time after the service had ended.Nevertheless, my memory got back on track, as I recalled being at home later in the day with my family. But at this juncture, everyone was busy except for me, simply because I’m the “baby” of the bunch, and all I was doing was looking on as the Christmas lunch preparations took all the attention away.Somewhere along my deep reminiscing, I became more aware that I was gifted toys, but needless to say, it was never a big interest of mine to indulge in playtime, but at the same time, I recalled my siblings (because of our huge age gap) were busy helping our mother around the kitchen, so there was no possibility of getting a play partner either. I soon recalled that after all the “in-kitchen” activities were over, each of us took our place at the table as a small but complete family. We then marked the beginning of our own little feast, by saying grace (or blessing our food as we would say), a responsibility my father took that time.But though I don’t vividly remember how we ended the day exactly, I know for a fact that all six of my family members (including me) were there together, in the same room enjoying each other’s presence.Christmas, as we all know, celebrates the birth of Jesus, but at the same time, it allows us to experience the second best thing about the season, which is being with your family, along with sharing and showing love.Acknowledging this fact, this memory is my favourite one to replay in my mind, simply because that vivid recollection of my siblings and parents genuinely bringing the true meaning of that word to life proved that I unknowingly experienced something others are unable to enjoy.This realisation ignited a flame of fulfilment, overwhelming joy, comfort and most importantly, peace, since over the years this has all changed for my family.I no longer spend my Christmas with the family I remembered, owing to the reality that half of those members now have families of their own who they spend Christmas with purposefully. And though I’m still the “baby” and the only one who doesn’t have a family yet, I cling closer to my parents on that day each year.And as I had reminisced, I desire to go back in time and relive those moments and refresh the memories that I have lost along the way growing up.