Christmas of past remembered

Published 8:14 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2007

By Staff
Last week as I was working at my desk, I, and the rest of the staff were discussing what we remembered of Christmases past. Lisa Tindell even thought about enough past holidays to write her column on Sunday about the subject.
I started to remember about Christmas when I was a child (and believe me, my remembrances go back a lot longer than hers).
I grew up out in the country, went to a country school for nine years, and attended a country church. My grandfather drove a school bus, but my older brother and I did not live on his route. When December rolled around, my brother, Sterling, and I would ride Granddaddy's bus instead of Mr. Lige's (which is another story in itself). We rode all the whole route and of course were the last to be on the bus. We headed down to the woods behind where our grandparents lived to look for our Christmas tree. Each year it was the same. We would find a pretty good looking tree but always decided to look a bit farther and deeper into the woods. About the time it began to get dark we almost always decided to go back and get the first one we found. And it always gave my brother some more time to pull some sort of trick on me.
We waited at our grandparents for either my mother or my daddy to come and get us and when we got that tree home it just had to be decorated right away. We always put our tree up about the middle of December.
We didn't have a lot of money to spend; in fact we had very little. We could always count on some fruit and nuts, the fruit brought from Florida by an uncle and the nuts out of the back yard. My mother would always get a big jar of cream drops and when we wanted something a little bit different, she would melt some of them down to make a make-do for chocolate milk. We just about always cut a hole in an orange and sucked the juice out. Back in those days you could get peppermint sticks that had hollows in them. It was really good to take one of those sticks and use them as a straw in the orange. Yum, Yum.
I remember two stories having to do with dolls. We used to have our family reunion at Christmas time and it was the custom to draw names to buy gifts for. This was my mother's family and she only had three brothers and six sisters. You can see why we decided to draw names. Well one particular year, I did not find my yearly doll under the Christmas tree. I was heartbroken. How could Christmas come and go without me having my doll? I cheered up a little bit and enjoyed the big Christmas dinner with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins around. When it came time to open our gifts, I was very surprised to find a little doll with a whole box of handmade clothes. My Uncle Quince drew my name that year and my Aunt Laura made the clothes. Aunt Laura was the only one in the family to marry someone who could afford that kind of stuff. I really lucked out that year.
Another year I decided that I did not believe in Santa Claus anymore. I had gone with my mother to Dothan to shop in the old Bloomburg store. This was the store of all stores at the time. I found a big doll dressed in red overalls and a striped shirt. He had on a fine hat and was so cute. I asked my mother if I could have him and she replied that he cost too much and tried to get me interested in a smaller baby doll. Because I no longer believed in Santa Claus, I tried to find whatever it was that I was going to get. I searched the house and finally, on a shelf in the closet, I found a nice red billford and a chenille housecoat. That settled it for me. There was no Santa Claus. On Christmas morning, instead of rushing from my bed to see what was under the tree, I just took my time because I knew what was waiting for me under the tree. But, imagine my surprise when I saw the big doll sitting under the tree in all his glory. My faith was restored and I believed again. I decided right then and there that I would never make the mistake of not believing in Santa Claus.
I have spent many happy holidays and some that were a little bit simple and not so happy. I have even spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas all alone.
Back when my husband was in the military, he had to cook for the men on base and was 40 miles away for the holidays. As we were in California, I had no other family to be with me.
He did make it better by sending one of his men on that long ride from Ft. Erwin to Barstow to bring me a plate.
That was probably the most laid back holidays I have ever spent.
Until next week, happy hunting!

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