It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for a whole year. Last year, I received a tremendous response to my post on Cordelia Calls It Quits about Cordelia Family Christmases past, so this year I thought it might be fun to go waaaay back in time and revisit my own childhood and young adult holidays.
My very first memory of Christmas was when I was probably about 4 years old (yes, I did say “waaay back.”)
That year, my Dad decided it would be great fun to get one of his friends to dress up as Santa and come visit us on Christmas Eve. My family had just finished dinner when there was a knock at the door. Normally, my parents or one of my older brothers would answer the door, but for whatever reason (in my little mind), everyone kept saying , “[Cordelia’s Mom] – can you open the door?”
(Please, everyone, don’t tell me you’re naïve enough to think I was called “Cordelia’s Mom” back then! Obviously, I did have a name, I just refuse to use it in this blog.)
It took a lot of my family’s coaxing to get me to go anywhere near that door. At age 4, I was well aware that the world contained all kinds of monsters, some of which insisted on hiding in my bedroom closet.
Finally, I got my courage. I tentatively, and slowly, opened that door. And there stood – the biggest, fattest STRANGER I ever saw, with a white beard and wearing a bright red suit, and booming “HO-HO-HO!”
Scared the bejeebers out of me! I immediately turned tail and ran into my mother’s arms, and there I stayed no matter how much that fat old stranger tried to sweet talk to me.
Sometimes even the best idea a parent has will backfire in a surprising way.
I don’t recall if it was that same year or the following year that my Dad bought the mail-order “life size” animated doll. Imagine my surprise when I gleefully opened a very large present to find a doll taller than me, which when wound up could walk and talk just like me.
Imagine a 4-year-old being faced with a doll taller than her which is walking towards her and talking in a weird, mechanical voice!
Scared the bejeebers out of me!
And that doll wound up being replaced by one much, much smaller than me and which did nothing other than let me play with it in normal 4-year-old fashion.
My family lived in a house which was built over the garage. My Dad was a contractor who worked out of the house and had lots of equipment and supplies in the garage, and we kids were not inclined to go in there. So naturally, that’s where my parents hid the Christmas presents.
Come Christmas Eve, my younger brother was sent to bed fairly early, with the usual caution that Santa would not come until all young children were asleep. My brother, bless his little heart, tried very hard to sleep and pretended that he was, in fact, asleep. He was very concerned that Santa might not be able to land because it had not snowed that year. My job was to sit with him and make sure he didn’t leave his room.
Suddenly, there was a clatter downstairs, and my older brothers were heard yelling, “Come on, Santa – drop them right here!” My brothers proceeded to run all over the driveway and front sidewalk, constantly “guiding” Santa to the right spot for them to catch those presents. I think we may even have heard Santa’s Ho-Ho-Ho as he flew away.
My baby brother began trembling, but again, bless his little heart, he made that mighty effort to pretend to be asleep. We didn’t make the poor little guy suffer too long – once Santa had unloaded the gifts, my older brothers brought everything upstairs, and we “woke up” my little brother so we could begin our traditional Chrismas Eve festivities.
And then there was my favorite, most heart-warming Christmas. I was in my early 20s and in my first marriage. My then husband had sustained a back injury at his construction job and could not go out into the woods behind our apartment complex to chop down a tree. With the loss of income, we had very little money for food, and nothing available to buy a Christmas tree.
We made the best of it. If I recall correctly, I decorated a couple of small houseplants, and we made a holiday dinner out of whatever canned goods we still had on hand. All in all, it wasn’t a bad Christmas Eve – we were young and had each other, and were not yet even anticipating our eventual divorce.
(Hmmm, I’m not sure my three girls knew that I had been married to someone other than their Dad – but I guess they do now …)
Along about 10:00 pm that night, there was a knock on our apartment door. We were not expecting company and were too old to believe in Santa. My then husband hobbled to the door – and standing there were many of our friends, with food, gifts, and a Christmas tree!
Our friends didn’t have any more money than we did, really, and some of them weren’t the most honest people on the face of this earth. I didn’t want to ruin the mood, but eventually I couldn’t stand the suspense and asked how they happened to come across a “free” tree late on Christmas Eve.
The leader of the group paused a moment, and then finally admitted … they had gone around after all the Christmas tree stands had closed and picked up branches and a stump that had been left behind, and they made us a Christmas tree!
No one has EVER had a more beautiful tree, not even Charlie Brown!
I hope every one of my readers has a loving, peaceful holiday season. Give someone you love a hug from Cordelia’s Mom!
As always, I love to hear from my readers. You may either comment on this post, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org