There’s nothing like Christmas to inspire a stroll down memory lane. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of Christmases memories in my life, but for today’s blog post, I was thinking…If I had to pick five memories that stand out as being perhaps the most memorable, they would probably be:
5. The year I got a Crystal Barbie (and found out there was no Santa Claus). I think I was five. An early reader, I had sadly begun to notice the signs. For example, we would leave cookies for Santa and the note he wrote back saying “Thanks for the cookies!” was in my dad’s handwriting. I thought it was remarkable that Santa had handwriting just like my dad’s, but politely said nothing. Then I noticed the tags on the presents from Santa were in a handwriting that looked like my mom’s. It seemed inappropriate to say anything about this either.
The bomb was dropped when I looked under the tree on Christmas morning and didn’t find a Crystal Barbie. To this day, I don’t think I have wanted any present as badly as that Crystal Barbie. I had taken the opportunity to tell every Santa I encountered – you know, just in case he was the real one – that I wanted a Crystal Barbie. And he hadn’t brought one. Santa had strangely seemed to read my mind and brought me a bunch of other stuff I hadn’t asked for, but no Barbie. (Turns out my grandmother had bought me one, and was going to give it to me Christmas night. But I didn’t know that at the time.) I remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that empty Christmas morning with this new revelation. Either Santa Claus didn’t exist, or they all had amnesia!
4. The year I skied behind the tractor. Or “roller-skied,” as it were. I had gotten a pair of white skates from my grandparents, and it seemed the only fitting thing to do at the time was to try them out with a rope. Behind the tractor. Down the road. It was kind of like waterskiing, but with gravel, weeds and concrete. You only ski behind a tractor once, so I guess you should remember it, right?
There may have been some adult eggnog involved that Christmas too…I’m not sure. (Jeff Foxworthy didn’t exist back then, or my family might have had him on speed dial and invited him over for breakfast.)
3. The year my sister was born. My sister was born the Christmas I was four. Born December 22nd, she came home from the hospital on Christmas Day, and we named her Holly. I remember my dad taking me to the hospital, holding me up as I peered through the glass, determined to declare that I liked whichever baby they showed me. Then they brought her home, where everyone fussed over the new baby. This I couldn’t really understand. The baby seemed to have done nothing to deserve such attention. All she did was sleep, and when she was awake, she either looked confused, or she was screaming. But then there were a lot of things adults did that I didn’t understand. They liked salads, for example, and sat in lawn chairs by the pool instead of getting in the water, and took naps with the door locked. But that might be another blog post.
Holly hadn’t been due till January, so we didn’t have a stocking for her – just a little diaper hung on the mantel. Inside was a note from Santa saying that Holly was too little for presents this year, but that she would get some next year. This raised Santa Suspicion #37. You are never too little for presents.
2. The year my grandmother’s hair caught on fire. I didn’t say these were the happiest Christmas memories – just the most memorable. And it’s really hard to forget when your grandmother’s hair catches on fire. Like most well-bred Southern ladies, my grandmother had gone to the beauty parlor the Friday before Christmas to get her hair permed, teased and lacquered with a cloud of Aqua Net. This was all fine and good until she bent over a centerpiece of candles to scoot her chair up to the dinner table.
Now, seeing your grandmother’s hair on fire is one of life’s moments where you would like to think you’d be quick on your feet. That you’d do something heroic. My first reaction was to grab the goblet of whatever liquid was closest to me and douse her with it. But it’s hard to throw milk on your grandmother. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to stare for a few seconds, then yell, “Dad!” The scene ended with my dad, who was watching television in the other room, rushing in and beating out his mother-in-law’s hair with a napkin.
Don’t worry – she wasn’t hurt. In end, nothing but her pride was injured, which just proves that higher hair does make you closer to God.
1.The year it snowed in Alabama on Christmas. My sister is probably upset at this point that she got outranked by flaming hair and snow. (All I can say is that the Christmas you were born I was four, and I don’t remember it all that well.) I’d heard people sing about snow on Christmas all my life, seen it in other states and on holiday movies and wondered if I’d ever get to see my own house and surrounding settings covered in snow on Christmas Day. Two years ago, however, we arose on Christmas morning to find our lawn blanketed with a miraculous layer of white. It’s hard to fool the weathermen in Alabama, but somehow four inches of snow had snuck in undetected. I know you Northern folks will think I’m crazy, but snow in Alabama is a big deal. We don’t properly salt our roads or drive in it, so if it snows more than a dusting, everything just shuts down for two days until it melts.
There is a sound that snow makes, falling on the trees. I still remember all the vivid detail – the beauty of the drive to grandma’s in the snow…snow falling quietly in the surprised Alabama pines, and children eagerly making snowmen in the front yard.
May your own Christmas this year be just as merry and just as bright…
And may all your Christmases be white.