As the year draws to a close and the holidays are near, I am often reminded of memories of Christmases past. Like most children, Christmas for me was a magical time. In our family Santa always decorated our tree, as a result the first time we saw the tree was on Christmas morning. On Christmas eve we children would sit around and put hooks on all the ornaments and check all the lights to make things easier for Santa, after all, he had a lot of ground to cover.
I think my earliest memory of Christmas morning is waking up before everyone else, I was maybe 4 years old, going into the livingroom which had been transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland. One of the thing that I think made our tree so special was the use of Angel Hair. If you're not familiar with Angel Hair, it is a form of spun glass that is stretched over the tree giving the lights a very magical glow. That first vision of the tree, surrounded by presents made an amazing impression on me as a young child.
Christmas was also one of the very few times that we were able to gather with my mother's family. A rift in the famly caused by my father made this impossible at other times. However, Christmas eve was always the exception. My mother would pack us into the car and we would drive the few miles to my aunt and uncle's house, where my mother's parents, siblings and their children would gather for the evening to catch up and exchange gifts for the children. Odd that although we all lived within 5 miles of each other, except for Aunt Mally and Uncle Sep, we were virtually strangers to each other.
I remember the year I wanted white go-go boots (American Band Stand). I was so thrilled with them that I wore them everywhere. Also, the year I got my first Barbie, a red head with a beehive type hair style with the latest modification, bendable legs. My mother also spent many nights up late making tiny outfits for both my Barbie and my sister's. So she had to make two of everything, business suits, party dresses, hats, etc. My sister still has many of these in her attic.
Then there was the year my father came home with the latest and greatest in Christmas trees. It was silver aluminium with plain round ornaments and a color wheel. Back then it was all the rage, that must have been 1967. Unfortunately, during Hurricane Camille a tornado took the roof off our attic as well as the silver tree, strewing the branches far and wide. For months afterward people were bringing us silver branches of our tree.
As my sister and I moved into our teenage years, we often got "shared" Christmas gifts due to financial constraints. One year we got a little green record player. My first album was Elton John, Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player". Along with the record player came several funky Christmas albums with funny and uncommon songs.
My mother always made us Christmas outfits, although I sadly must confess that I can't remember a single one. I remember some of our Easter outfits but when it comes to Christmas I am totally blank.
In March 1979 my mother passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. Even today, I miss her like it was yesterday. She was the bravest, most selfless person I have ever known, my older sister is a great deal like her. It saddens me that she never had the opportunity to know her grandchildren. It is usually this time of year that I miss her the most because of all that she did to make Christmas special for us, including spending the days before Christmas at church decorating for Midnight Mass.
Thanks for all you did Momma, I miss you.