Saturday, December 26, 2015

Shades of Christmas Past

It being Christmas Day yesterday and our holiday postponed, I wasn't feeling very festive, more Scrooge than Tiny Tim.  Paying bills just rubbed salt in the wound.  And then I was visited by the Ghosts of some Christmases Past.

I've told before how, when I was a kid, Santa came to our house on Christmas Eve in varying and ingenious ways, never the same way twice and never at the same time.  Mother and Daddy were at odds every year.  He wanted formal trees, sometimes white or flocked, and Mother wanted old-fashioned full green firs.  They reached an every-other-year compromise.  Christmas Day was usually spent at one relative's or another, frequently at Mother's brother Uncle Harry's.  Uncle Harry overindulged in the spiked eggnog and insisted on singing at the top of his lungs, and his carving of the turkey was, let us say, unique.  Daddy's been gone 35 years, Mother 31, but I saw them clear as day.

The scene changed and I saw the Kid's dad and I putting bicycles together well past midnight for four sleeping children.  He was strictly a Christmas-morning kind of guy.  Christmas Eve was when our parents came to visit, but no presents could be opened.  The grandparents had to come in shifts.  Family dynamics being what they were, my parents had divorced and would not come at the same time.  His parents had divorced and would not speak to each other.  My mother had gotten mad at his mother at our wedding (she could hold a grudge!) and they could not be together.  Battle lines were drawn and it took great planning, as well as timing, to keep the spirit of the holiday from turning into warfare.  All those faces came back to me yesterday.

My friend Dolly appeared and she was appalled at my undecorated tree.  Her house screamed Christmas every year, decorated to the nines with every conceivable reindeer possible.  I might say that she decorated for every holiday, not just Christmas.  Her husband Dan was a laconic guy who put up with our brand of crazy.  It was nice to see them again.

Steve loved Christmas and his excitement made all the trouble of baking and cooking and decorating easy.  Even more than the Kids, he wanted stocking hung, filled with goodies and surprises.  He wanted a brightly lit tree in the living room and downstairs.  There were even little trees and a Santa mirror in the bathroom!  I received the most detailed wish lists, including prices and stores.  I still carry the paper to which he'd cut out and stapled wanted items so I could get exactly the ones he wanted.  Christmas Eve was our private time for our gifts to each other, but he couldn't wait for the family to show up for the festivities to begin.  One year when Deb was staying with us, she was sleeping in and he couldn't take it.  He clomped past her room, calling out loudly (and unnecessarily) as he went.  It might have been all of six a.m.  The holiday isn't the same without him.

You know, it wasn't such a bad day after all.

It's down in the 20s again this morning, but knowing Clay, and maybe Dave, will be here keeps me warm.  It's going to be a good day.

No comments: