Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Another Christmas memory . . .
When my oldest daughter and son were young, my Aunt Carol and Uncle Joe always hired Santa, his wife, and elves to come visit their home and surprise all of the kids. Now Santa and his crew usually were (in their regular lives) friends of my cousin Mark. They were the family of a band member in the band that Mark had worked.
And they were fun in a wild and crazy way.
And this was over 20 years ago back when we all didn’t have common sense that we are expected to have these days.
The kids, my mom and dad, aunt and uncle, and the rest of us ALWAYS had such a good time! Santa Claus ho-ho-hoed to the kids’ delight, they were truly in a festive spirit when they came to visit. I can remember the kids squealing when they heard the jing-jing-jingle of the bells as Santa et al came prancing down the street. And after they entered, all the treats of the Christmas season suddenly appeared!
Even as an adult, I had never seen so many cookies. I vaguely remember baking some of them to bring but I think my aunt and mom made nearly all of them. There were cookies and candies of all sorts, coffee, and soda, and juice! Aunt Carol and my mom, her sister and her best friend, always were dressed head to toe in Christmas clothes! The two of them would flit back and forth from the kitchen to the living room making sure that cookie plates were full and drinks weren’t being spilled while my father and uncle sat in chairs observing all the activity. My dad sat grumpily, my uncle participated fully.
I’ll never forget all of the laughter! Even though my uncle has been gone for nearly 15 years, I can still hear his laugh. And I’ll never forget my aunt’s laugh – she and my mom laugh alike – never just a chuckle, but a full belly laugh!
We were all nice and cozy in the dead of winter smack in the middle of the snowbelt. My aunt and uncle didn’t have a very large house so we were all kind of jammed together in the living room among smells of cinnamon, coffee, cigarettes, and . . . . booze!
Mr. and Mrs. Claus – Santa and his wife – were sloshed! No wonder the jolly old elf was so jolly! He had half a tank full! I had always wondered what it was that made Mrs. Claus giggle so much! Now the elves were NOT drunk – they were just pleasant little elves and smelled of peppermint and hot chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, the Claus clan was obnoxiously drunk – they were just merrily drunk (I guess you would have to be to deal with THAT many kids in such close quarters!). They were truly Claus-esque! They made each child feel that the trip had been made especially for him or her! And plastered or not, they were the Clauses and gave their entire selves over to being the Clauses for the entire afternoon (even when they snuck outside for a smoke, they hid so no child would see them).
That’s another Christmas that I hadn’t thought about in a while. Last night I woke up again in a panic that I would have too little, too late for Christmas. But so far, as I poke around in the recesses of my memory, all I’ve been able to come up with in respect to memorable holidays are experiences with people – not with things! I’m hoping that putting these memories on record will help me to avoid a Christmas depression and refocus the meaning of the season. At my house in addition to celebrating Christmas, my kids and I welcome the winter solstice. This is turning out to be a nice tradition in which we honor nature and the cycle of life by offering food and treats to the animals, by being aware of the change of the season, and being thankful for all that nature has to offer.
In spite of the cold and darkness (or perhaps because of it), our celebration has a definite intimate feel to it. We started last Winter Solstice by burning a Yule log or otherwise know as a dura flame log from the grocery store. The kids made peanutbutter and seed pinecones for the birds, they sliced apples for the deer, and we popped popcorn. We recited a poem and enjoyed being out in the night under the star-studded cloudless night. When we came in, we warmed ourselves with hot chocolate and cookies.
Again, the kids don’t talk about the gifts they received last year – I doubt they can remember what they got – but they’ve all reminisced about celebrating the solstice.