Saturday, December 18, 2010

All About Christmas

My moma and her family didn't celebrate Christmas when they were growing up, partly because my grandparents belonged to a strict Christian religion that doesn't believe in celebrating Christmas and partly because they were poor. Gramma and Grampa had six little girls they tried to support on their two checks from the Crown Cotton Mill. Moma and her sisters talk often of the good times they shared when they were growing up.

Grampa was very strict and didn't allow them to put up any decorations or get any gifts for Christmas. Despite Grampa's decree Moma and her sisters wanted to celebrate like their friends and neighbors did. Moma said she always looked forward to seeing what her neighbor, Freddie Leroy, got for Christmas. She said Freddie had long beautiful curly hair and, for some strange reason, he always got a beautiful doll. He didn't like his dolls so he always let the Carter girls play with it.

One time the sisters decided to have a small cedar Christmas tree. They put the little tree in a coffee can with rocks in it to hold it up and decorated it with construction paper chains and white cotton balls. They hid the  tiny tree in the corner behind two doors that opened from two rooms that were never closed. Nobody would even think to look behind the two doors. They were so happy after their Christmas tree was decorated. Everyone was sworn to secrecy and everything went fine until Grampa got home.

When Grampa came in from work, tired and hungry, Jonnie Bell, the big mouth, ran up to him with utter delight and said, "Daddy! We have a Cheeta-Chee!" She was trying to say they had a 'cedar tree'. Poor Jonnie didn't realize that her great joy and excitement over their accomplishment would have dire consequences.

Grampa found the 'Cheeta-Chee' and quickly dispatched it out the door. That was the end of their Christmas that year.

Moma said she did remember Grampa buying them some presents a couple of times, though. She remembered one year that he got every girl a doll baby. Jonnie Bell didn't like her doll so she ended up getting Crick's dolly. Things weren't always fair when one child could cry so loud.

Although Moma and her sisters didn't get to celebrate Christmas, and Santa Claus never came to visit them, she never denied me a Christmas. Moma and Daddy always loved me and showered me with wonderful gifts for Christmas. Moma never actually told me that there was a Santa Claus but she never denied it either.

I loved Christmas when I was a kid. The Crown Cotton Mill gave out fruit baskets for Christmas. I only had eyes for the foot long 2" candy cane and all the candy bags of orange slices and chocolate drops. Since both sets of grandparents and my parents worked at the cotton mill there were plenty of goodies sitting around.

I remember some amazing Christmas's over the years. One of my favorite years I got a round wooden table with two matching captains chairs and a cooking set with little dishes and cake pans and mix. Moma and Daddy went back to bed and I mixed all my packages together playing with them. I didn't have anything to cook when Moma got up to help me. I also got an inexpensive set of finger puppets that looked like a barbershop quartet that year. I loved putting them on my fingers and singing with them and pretending like we were performing for a live audience. I had a big imagination when I was a kid.

Daddy and Moma built a house when I was seven years old. Daddy was working with the crew who was building it but they worked on it in their spare time. After he came in from work building someone else's house he would go down to the new house we were building and he would work on things he could do by himself to get it ready to move into. That was the year I asked Santa for a pony.

Every day Daddy would come home late from work and sit down to eat and rest for the day. He was stiff and sore and usually in a foul mood. I thought he was always late because he was working on the new house. I didn't know that he was really breaking a pony for me. He was trying to break it in by Christmas so I could ride it.

The pony was a beautiful black and white pony with a long beautiful mane and tail. Daddy bought a beautiful black studded saddle and bridle to match. The pony was beautiful when it was saddled up. The only problem was, it wasn't broke! The pony was willful and uncooperative. I didn't have any riding experience and I was terrified of the evil, biting and bucking beast. That was a bad idea! Daddy ended up swapping my mean little pony for a brown and white pinto that was supposed to be good with kids. I guess the magic wore off with the first little pony because Trigger and I never bonded like we should have. I was always afraid of him and he knew it. He would roll his eyes at me and I cringed in fear. He was a reminder of my stupidity and the fact that you don't always need what you want.

Moma hid my presents for years and never would answer me when I asked her to tell me if Santa Claus was real. By the time they finally broke the news to me I was in middle school. I remember that Christmas being the one that I got a pretty navy colored sailor's raincoat with white piping. I loved it, until the seams started coming apart and it basically disintegrated on me. I think I also got a crappy watch but I am notorious for killing watches. I think I am too electric, or something. Maybe that's what I Sing the Body Electric means.

I've never been comfortable with swapping gifts and I resent wasting money on crap that nobody really wants or needs. I'll be honest. I'm a Scrooge. When my boys were little I never taught them that Santa Claus was coming to bring them gifts. I felt it makes much more sense knowing that Moma and Daddy are playing Santa, not some fat stranger dressed in a red suit. I didn't want to lie to my kids. I think if you lie to them about Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and then tell them about Jesus, how are they going to swallow that? They might think everything is a lie. Maybe it's just me. I hate being lied to. I know some mothers used Santa as a threat to keep their kids in line. I laughed and watched their kids fearful looks. Whatever. I told the boys not to step on other people's beliefs, but there really wasn't a Santa Claus. They always got everything they ever wanted or needed so they were okay with that.

Every Christmas we enjoy lighting up our yard. We had a Christmas tree in front of the house we decorated, too. We have done this for years. A few years ago I found out that Colt had been telling a friend of his that rode the bus with him that we were Jewish! When the young man came out here he mentioned something about us being Jewish. Huh? Come again.  Colt thought it was hilarious that he had been scamming his friend Justin for years about us being Jewish. I asked Colt why he did that . He said that if Justin was too dumb know we weren't Jewish since we put up Christmas decorations every year he wasn't going to tell him any difference. What a guy! Who knew? We're Jewish. mazel tov!

I love Christmas. I love watching the Charlie Brown Christmas on the TV and, who doesn't love, It's a Wonderful Life? I love Christmas lights and holiday tunes. I love being with family and friends. I just don't love shopping for presents. I don't care if you say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, but wouldn't it be more honest if merchants changed their greeting to Come on in Suckers. Christmas is a marketing gimmick that has been going on for about a hundred years. The best part of Christmas is the decorations, if you ask me.

Now that my boys are grown I like to give them the gift that keeps on giving. You can fold it, you can break it, you can save it, or you can use it all up. No! It is not a gift card. A pox upon gift cards, too. I like GREEN. Who doesn't like green? If we must swap gifts lets put a limit (say $25MOL?) and if you swap gifts give gifts of equal value, all green. Wa-Laa! Now buy what YOU want, yourself. Scout says that doesn't sound like a very good gift. Probably because he'd be breaking even, unlike he usually does. Hey, maybe I am Jewish. Who knew?

I don't think Jesus came into the world to help merchants sell various merchandise to people who can't afford it for people who don't need it. But that's just me.

Oh, and did you ever notice that you can scramble the letters in Santa around and they spell Satan? How do you like that? Creepy, huh?


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