My memories of Christmas don’t involve lavish gifts or miracles. No, Christmas during my younger years wasn’t like that at all. Although I must admit I don’t remember ever wanting something and not getting it eventually. My children would (in unison) tell anyone that ideology and practice is called "delayed gratification" and delayed gratification builds character. My memories of Christmas as a child have more to do with the simple things and of the people who touched my life each Christmas season.
As a young child our tree always seemed so huge, but thinking back on it now, the tree was probably no better or bigger than any "Charlie Brown" type tree. If memory serves me correct, my father used to go out into the woods and cut our tree each year. My mother would probably have a different memory of that occasion and tell me he was too drunk to do that. Regardless of whose memory is correct, each year we did have a tree from the woods of Maine and the tree was amazing! Maybe the elves brought it! Who knows? What I remember most about the tree is how my cats loved it. The ornaments seemed to give them endless joy throughout the Christmas season. The one ornament I remember clearest were ones made of tiny pinecones and painted white. Somehow they were fashioned into looking like birds. Needless to say, the cats found them along with everything else hanging from the tree fair game and put there for their amusement. After all isn’t a Christmas tree just a giant green cat toy?
I was a quick understudy as a child. My brothers taught me if a string was pulled across the gifts very slowly, the cats would "accidentally" tear open the wrapping paper just enough for a peek inside. Of course, we were always warned not to do that, but mysteriously each year the gifts almost looked shredded by the time Christmas would come along. Those pesky cats were so naughty at times!
Some winters would be barren right up until Christmas Eve and then miraculously come Christmas morning everything would be dusted with snow. The new fallen snow added to the spirit of the season and the anticipation of getting outside after being penned up in the house was almost unbearable. New snow meant sledding and snowball fights!
While at Barnes and Noble recently I saw a Christmas card that was so "me". The only reason I didn’t get it was because I didn’t like the verse written inside. I usually go for some "beachy" Christmas scene to send to all my friends and relatives up North, but this year I opted for a cute kitty card. The card at Barnes and Noble that I saw made me think of my misspent youth. The picture was a black and white shot of a little boy bundled up in winter clothing standing next to a metal pole (most likely a flagpole) with his tongue stuck to the pole. I can’t remember how many times as a child I used to do the same thing. Why? Just because I could and probably because I was told not to do it. Guess what? I still have my entire tongue!
Each Christmas morning after unwrapping our gifts, my brothers and I would clean up the mess while my mother cooked a meal fit for royalty. One year my mother told my brothers that when I stopped believing in Santa, we would start opening our gifts on Christmas Eve so that the house wouldn’t be such a mess the next day. Let me end this entry by sharing that at the ripe old age of 5, I opened my gifts on Christmas Eve and have been doing so ever since. You see, my family is so good every year that Santa puts my family at the very top of his delivery list.