Friday, December 07, 2012

Christmas Past

I'm the one who looks like a boy, dressed in dark overalls.

I have many good and not so good memories of Christmas growing up.

 During the year, Dad would work hard - He'd be grouchy and just tired all the time. But boy, when Christmas came, he was the biggest kid of all of us. Years ago before my sister came along, my dad was working for Chrysler Corporation in Detroit. He had been laid off - Mom and Dad were concerned that they would not be able to provide a "Christmas" for me.  Mom had some old dresses and some apron material - she sewed up for me a couple of little dresses and made matching dresses for my dolls. And, on Christmas Eve, my dad would go out, in the snow and bring back oranges and assorted typed of nuts.  That was Christmas!

Years later,  after we came to California to live, our family started the tradition of opening up our gifts on Christmas Eve. In fact, I do not even remember opening gifts on Christmas morning. The lights of the tree were beautiful - the fire roaring in the fireplace - neighbors would drop by - it was a festive time. That was our Christmas.

Dad loved to do the "Santa" thing on us. Oh he would get such a kick over it. One reason why we opened up our gifts on Christmas Eve instead was because my Dad couldn't wait. When my sister and I were young, we would be taking a bath, and the doorbell would ring - and we'd hear bells and a Santa-like voice would yell in,

"Does Miss blah blah and Miss blah blah live here?"

and my sister and I would practically kill ourselves, slipping and sliding - to get out of that tub, to get our robes on - to try and catch Santa Claus. I remember one year, my sister was like 3 years old and she ran out naked! It was cute.  All the presents were displayed under the tree. Some wrapped and some not. Like bicycles, 13 inch TV sets, play kitchen, things they couldn't wrap. We'd play till well after midnight.

Christmas morning - there was no church. All of the family lived back east, so we did not have Grandma and Grandpa to go and visit anymore.  No aunts and uncles or cousins like it had been, before moving. It was just us. Mom would make a good meal - sometimes Dad would invite his business partners over, with their families.

 And every other year, we would pack up the car on Christmas Day and head down to Disneyland and stay a week. That was Christmas!

And YES, being a 60's kid, Mom and Dad went overboard on the gifts. I remember back then as a teenager, my Mom, throwing it in my face after Christmas, how spoiled we were - and how we did not appreciate any of it. (She was dead wrong but I couldn't change her mind) and I came back at her and told her,

"Well, you are the parent. You could stop doing it." 

She actually got mad at me for saying that, and then warned me - that she just might have to do that!

That was when, I first started to realize, that Christmas was more than just buying loads of presents. 

As each year went by,  Mom and Dad started to get resentful - that we were growing up, with our own minds and our own lives - Christmas then became a tool in which to manipulate us and our families. 

To this day, I chose to remember the good times with my folks who are now gone. I can finally understand how Christmas was so important to them - having grown up during the Depression and WW2. They wanted to give their children, what they never had.

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