Christmas Memories…the best gift…

Happy Holidays, my friends! While it has been a few months since I last posted, in my defense, I’ve been a tad busy assimilating my new career path. I’m happy to say it’s going brilliantly and has been the most welcome present ever!

Like some of you, my budget is small this year and even with steady income, playing catch-up is difficult, as well as frustrating, and certainly doesn’t leave much room for gift giving. Even though he’s 21 now, I still slip into the “what-do-I-get-my-son??” mode at Christmas. It’s just a part of motherhood, I guess, and it stays with you, no matter how old your children are. Really makes me think back to when I was a little girl and all those wonderful Christmases I had. I’m sure my parents must have worked themselves silly to pay bills AND provide all those neatly wrapped presents we found under the tree on Christmas morning. We may not always have gotten what we wanted but we surely got what we needed, especially as we got older and had our own lives and our own families.

I remember one year, not long before she passed away, my mother sent Christmas gifts, though I knew she couldn’t really afford much. When I peeled away the gift wrap, my eyes immediately welled with tears because I knew exactly why she sent it and that it was sent with all the love she had in her heart. My gift was a small photo album, filled with photos of me from various stages of my life. Both my brothers got one too. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received from my mom. It was precisely what I needed at that particular time.

I think my favorite photos in the little album are the ones taken at Christmas time, probaby because I’m smiling like I’ve just won the lottery. (don’t I wish. lol) There’s the one where my brother and I went to chop down a tree on my mom’s farm, the one where I got decked out for Christmas Eve church services when I was about 17 or 18 and the one of me sitting in front of her tree, in my fake fur coat. They all bring back warm memories.

xmas tree chop church services

 

 

fake fur

As the years passed and I came to have a family of my own, I wanted to create new memories for my son. We were a little unit of three and it was important to me to start my own traditions that we could share and enjoy. That, however, would prove to be more difficult than I thought. There were many years with just a few gifts, most of which we bought for our son and also those his grandparents provided. It helped that I worked a retail job because I got a discount on all my purchases. But even then, there were happy moments without a grand assemblage of packages under the little tree…

xmas unwrap  cute christmas

This year? Well…it’s not going to be a scene from a Lifetime movie, I can assure you. No steaming mug of hot cocoa while I wrap presents or baking mass quantities of sugar cookies or flaky-crusted pies. Yes, there will be a dinner but nothing extravagant. I only made a couple dozen cookies and planning on a cherry cheesecake but no over the top goodies. The only tree in the entire house is the one I received at my company Christmas party, which I keep on top of my rolltop desk:

 

 

charlie brown xmas

Yes, there have been a few lean years and 2013 will be no exception. Still…I’m blessed to have a job, a roof over my head and relatively good health. Oh sure, I could obssess over what I can’t do or don’t have and allow that to ruin my favorite time of year…but I won’t. Instead, I choose to remember back to when I was a young girl and how magical Christmas was. My parents had purchased a beautiful 6 ft. artificial tree around 1959, when my eldest brother was but a wee lad. It was well made, to be sure, and we decorated that tree year after year with tinsel and school-made decorations, little flocked teddy bear ornaments , shiny globes of different colors dotted all over the branches, glittery ornaments, strings of colored lights and anything else that caught my mother’s eye that she thought would look good. And always an angel as a tree topper. *sigh* I loved that tree. Most years, there were so many presents under the tree, they brushed the bottom of the branches! How my parents managed all those gifts and kept the bills paid too is beyond me. All I know is they sure made us smile. Whether it was the GI Joe for my eldest brother, the VertiBird for my middle brother, or the Barbie tent that made me leap for joy, we were grinning from ear to ear, my brothers and I.

More often than not, we’d make a trek across town to visit aunts and uncles, dragging just one gift along with us to compare with our cousins’ Christmas booty. I liked the treks because of the food. Oh…the food!! Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, fruit salads, green beans, all sorts of pies, divinity candy, sweet tea…you name it, we probably ate it.

All that is in the past now. Mama and daddy are gone, I haven’t seen my brothers in ages and Christmas will pass with barely a whisper for me. But y’know what? It doesn’t matter. I’m okay with my little Charlie Brown tree and it’s smattering of decorations,  because that isn’t what I see when I look at it. I see all the wonderful Christmases I’ve shared with my family, the smiles and laughter with aunts, uncles and cousins. I see the joy on my son’s face when he tore open the gift wrap and found the very thing he asked Santa to bring. I see the big, beautiful tree that meant so much to my mother, who insisted on putting it up every year, until her health and living space would no longer allow it. That’s what I see. That’s what I remember. And it makes me smile…like I did as a little girl.

little santa

So, be good to each other. Be thankful for what you have, and when you find yourself in a bit of a funk, remember the things that made you smile, not the ones that didn’t. God Bless you all…

merry-christmas

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