During a group training for work the other day, an icebreaker was posed of what our favorite Christmas memory was.
I was hoping I wasn’t going to be called on, so of course, I was.
I stammered through my answer, as I hate having to speak in front of a group, and gave a generic, standard response.
In reality, there wasn’t just one favorite Christmas.
Our traditions were not the grand, big gestures some have but they were ours.
It included the gigantic Christmas stocking Granny made for me that had to be at least three feet long. Made of some heavy-duty red felt and white docking, it was sturdy enough to hold any and everything that was put in it.
Instead of Barbies or dolls, Granny filled it with puzzles, games, and her childhood treasures of oranges, apples, nuts, and peppermint sticks.
There was waiting for the Wish Book to come out each year and going to the Sears in town to pick it up.
It was an event and people would be lined up waiting to pick up that special catalog that no doubt drove a large percentage of Sears’ sales each year. Granny would even call to find out when it would be available so we would get it early enough so the items I wanted would still be in stock.
I can even remember hearing Granny calling to order a Lite Bright and a guitar for me one year, with me opening the Lite Bright a week before Christmas much to her fury because I simply needed more sparkly lights in my life.
The light poles in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly would be wrapped with green and red decorations, letting us know Santa would be visiting our little town soon.
Sometimes, he was in the brick little
police booth that sat in front of the courthouse downtown, overlooking Broad
Street. I was leery of this fact when Mama would take me. Why was he in the
police booth? Wasn’t that just for the officers?
“He’s getting his naughty and nice lists from the police,” Mama said. “He’s got to verify his information.”
Once, he arrived by helicopter, making me worry something was wrong with his reindeer.
“They alright,” Granny reassured me. “They just can’t see during the day. Rudolph’s nose won’t light up if the sun’s out.”
Her excuse was not questioned, and I planned the rest of my month around that event.
There was the year I got a Cocker Spaniel puppy I named Lassie, and the year of the counterfeit Cabbage Patch dolls.
One year, I was certain I saw Santa peeking in on me through the window to make sure I was asleep.
It was little banks filled with change to turn in for Lottie Moon offerings, it was getting ready for Christmas at the church with the children’s play and choir, and Granny making small stockings and filling them with candy for the kids in her nursery.
It was my grandfather’s niece, Marian, along with a few other relatives on Pop’s side, spending the day with us, into night, as they sat around the kitchen table playing cards.
The Christmas trees were cut from the land behind our house, and Granny would make it gaudy with tinsel and those red and green garlands, turning the scrawny side towards the back against the wall. One year, the tree was scrawny all over, but Granny filled it out with every last bit of her trimmings.
When the cat took to toppling it to the ground, she sat the trunk in a five-gallon bucket and anchored it with rocks, leaving Capt. Jim Kirk the only option of climbing up inside the tree and being part of the decorations.
Christmas meant Granny hid her gifts in her chifforobe and I knew they were in there because that was the only time she locked it.
It was also the time I would take my chances by finding her key in her top dresser drawer to unlock it so I could see what I was getting.
One year, Pop caught me a couple of weeks before Christmas, and when he found out, he became my partner in crime as he wanted to see what he was getting too.
We both sat with our disappointment for weeks, not knowing the old gal was on to us and hid our big gifts some place else.
But how could that all be summed up in one little soundbite?
I couldn’t. Not even close. And no one would probably understand what all of those moments meant to me, to us.
It wasn’t just one specific Christmas; it was just a great big happy blur meshed together. None of them were fancy. If anything, they were quite simple.
But to me, they were all parts of the best Christmases ever.