So, it is the night before Christmas.
slave drew got home from his lake house, I made dinner for us tonight – pasta with salad and rolls – and also a Mediterranean Fish Casserole and Orzo Pilaf for tomorrow’s meal with friends. I’ll make a pumpkin pie during the day tomorrow.
drew opened one of his gifts from me, a book on insects. If you know slave drew, you know the thing he likes the most is information. He’ll pour over it and in six weeks know more than is really appropriate about insects.
The puppies got to open one of their presents, some greenie bones. They have a couple more gifts under the tree for tomorrow, but if I told what they were and the puppies happened to read my blog, then the surprise would be ruined.
We ate some of the candy I was given yesterday, until I made drew move them into another room lest I eat them all.
We are happily home until dinner tomorrow with friends, though if slave drew actually stays home all day, I’ll be surprised. There will be, I imagine, recycling that simply must be done, or a run to Starbucks, if Starbucks is open on Christmas day.
Disliking coffee, I have no knowledge of or interest in the answer to that.
When I was a kid, we would open one gift on Christmas eve. Over the years, sometimes I’ve done that, sometimes not.
We didn’t really have a lot of other traditions. We usually did a jigsaw puzzle over the holidays, played cards. I learned to play Pinochle young and we played it a lot.
I don’t remember what Christmas dinner was, probably a ham, given that my mother didn’t eat poultry of any kind, or fish.
There were no traditions of an ornament every year, or pancakes for dinner on Christmas eve, or a day watching movies in pajamas.
Our Christmas tree was always a pinyon pine, the state tree of Nevada. Pinyon pines are one of the pitchiest trees in the world, it seems. We never bought one, that I remember – poor, remember?
Our tree was usually one from a classroom. Do schools still do that, have a tree in the classroom? Probably not, but we did then, and by the time school let out, there were trees for free if you wanted them, so that was usually our tree.
I looked through my photos and these are nearly all the photos I have of my childhood Christmases. There were maybe three or four photos more, but not from other years.
The thing that strikes me is that I am rarely smiling in the photos.
The first one was when I was about three. Family friends – Aunt Bess and Uncle Charlie – had given me a ceramic poodle, with rabbit fur for a coat and a rhinestone collar. I had it for years. I don’t know what ever happened to it. It was a very frivolous gift, the kind I never got from my mother.
You can see our wild Jetson-esque curtains in the next photo. I was about six. I don’t remember anything I got, other than a baby doll that another family friend, Aunt Rose, had given me.
There’s another photo showing it, but not the cool curtains, which I’m sure were second hand from someone.
The last photo is probably the Christmas I remember best. I don’t know if my mother happened into some extra money or what, but it was the only Christmas I ever remember a gift from my mother that was really special.
I’d seen the doll in the local variety store, the only one in the town, really, where you could buy toys. I remember going in to look at it weekly, knowing absolutely that I would never have it.
It was some price so beyond the realm of what was possible that it never honestly occurred to me that I would get it. I don’t remember how much, maybe $20? But this was the early 1960’s, $20 was a lot and my mother was not the sort to sacrifice what she wanted in order to give her children special surprises. Not in her nature.
So, I would go and look at the doll, and never ask for it, because I knew I couldn’t have it, so what was the point?
Then one week, two or three before Christmas, it was gone, and I knew it had been bought and I’d never see it again. I remember feeling bleak about it, even that young, because at least I could visit her before, now she was gone forever.
And then, on Christmas, there was a box, a large one, and the doll was in it. There wasn’t much else, it wasn’t really a big Christmas, though I remember the container of Felix the Cat bubble bath you can see there.
I remember being kind of stunned. Note the expression isn’t one of a child jumping up and down with excitement, or gleeful.
I had the doll for years, she wore some of my baby clothes, and I made clothes for her. I kept her in pristine condition – I took care of my toys because I knew that there’d not be replacements if I ruined them.
So, that’s my memories. Tomorrow will be busy, and I hope joyous for all of you.
I hope that you and yours are also comfortably ensconced somewhere.
And for all of us, I wish for peace.