December 17, 2016
Don’t you just love this time of year?
Okay, let’s forget about overflowing malls, the annoying ads on TV, crammed airports, and the tug of war as to whose house you are going to first.
I am just going to float over all of that and slide back to the warm memories I had as a kid.
Since I have three brothers and a sister, Christmas could be a challenge to our parents, especially my mother.
Mom reminded (and helped) us write our notes to Santa. She took us to the post office where there was a special mail box just for him. It was covered with sparkling garlands, ornaments, candy canes and stars all around it. I was dazzled. As we stood in line with the other kids, I asked here when Santa would receive receive my letter. She said that Santa’s mail special and was always delivered the same day.
I asked if his elves came down every night to get it for him and fly back on the reindeer. Mom thought that was exactly how it worked and wasn’t I a clever girl to think of that.
Another memory was when we curled up on our parents bed and mom read “The Night Before Christmas” in her soft warm voice. When she was finished we were sleepy and went off to bed. How many of you remember that story so well you could recite it? I remember it, but get messed up knowing which verse goes where.
As I got older, I don’t remember the transition of finding out that there was no Santa, although I’m pretty sure my older brothers took care of that.
hen, would tear downstairs and run to our allotted place in the living room where our presents were stacked.
My next memory was waking up on Christmas morning and finding a large colorful stocking at the end of my bed. Of course, there were little presents (remember Pezz dispensers?), but also a tangerine in the very bottom.
I asked my mother why she always gave us a tangerine. She told me that in the old days, tangerines were considered a delicacy and rare treat. I remember the smell when I peeled back the first layer and the room was sprayed with a wonderful scent that stayed on my hands.
I think this whole Christmas stocking idea was designed to stall kids until their parents woke up. It seemed to work. We’d sneak quietly into each others rooms to see what we got. We always spoke in a whisper until one us started giggling. Then there was an eruption of shh’s and throwing our faces into a pillow to muffle it.
As we got older, we’d wait until our parents were dressed. Then tear down the stairs and run to where our presents were waiting.
As kids and adults, we got a lot of games, which in hindsight, I think my mother regretted. We always gravitated to “Jeopardy” and tore each other apart with a verbally ferocious attitude that even scared the dog. Losing was never an option.
We were shocked when one year our mother asked us not to play it anymore. She found the yelling and screaming too upsetting, so we put it away immediately. We quietly said we were sorry and felt lousy about doing that to her.
About three years later, we were on the floor looking through our game stash and slid “Jeopardy” silently back into the cupboard. Then mom said: “It’s okay.” We turned in unison like owls and stared at her. She said it was okay to play the game. We asked if she was sure and she smiled and said yes. She added that it didn’t scare and upset as much watching us tear into each other like hyenas.
We did play, but jokingly toned down the competition with great exaggeration to sound like this:
My sister would read: “These are the primary colors.”
One of us would respond immediately but would reply slowly with a haughty tone: “Mary, I believe the answer to that is red, blue, and green.”
To which one of us would also respond with a slow haughty tone: “I’m sorry Tom, but I respectfully disagree with you. I believe the primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Green can not be a primary color because when you mix two of the primary colors such as yellow and blue, you do get green.
When our mother heard that for the first time she burst out laughing “and told us to play normally. Kaboom! The game was on.
Oh, I left out the dog! We had a really cool Golden Retriever named Stoney who at the time was still a puppy. He’d fly under the dining room table as we tore open our presents. When I noticed this, I crawled under the table and started laughing. Sorry, I couldn’t help it. He looked so cute. Terrified, but cute.
I calmed him down and then I made my voice get all excited when I told him he had presents, too! That’s all he needed to hear and jumped into the fray. I pulled out his special stocking and said: “Look what you got, Stoney!” He started barking and jumping around as I pulled out a bone. He grabbed it immediately and started prancing around the room looking proud. Then I motioned him to come back because he had even MORE toys! I don’t know how we kept him from clomping over all our presents.
Looking back, terrifying our mother and the dog is not a proud moment. Way to go, kids!
I keep religion out of my blogs as it is so very personal. But let’s not forget for whom we are really celebrating.
I wish you all a warm and wonderful Norman Rockwell Christmas.
All my best,
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