The year was sometime after my grandmother died from Alzheimer’s and sometime before I started dating my future husband. Our stockings hung limp and unfulfilled, except for tiny bulges in the toe part. A faded, ripped tree skirt bravely circled the tree, dotted with a few small homemade gifts that did little to hide its flaws. We knew this wouldn’t be a season of plenty. My stepdad had been injured on the job and couldn’t work. My mother worked some thankless job somewhere, and it was all they could do to keep a roof over our heads.
I can’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed when I went to bed on Christmas Eve. Certainly, I was too old to believe in Santa anymore, and I’d lived at poverty’s doorstep for long enough to learn to appreciate the basics. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder—how can I be excited if we’re not running to the living room to see presents filling the space under the tree? I think I worried more about how bad my parents would feel to see my disappointment. So, I went to bed, unexcited and uninspired, but determined to put on a smile and put all my joy into little things my mom had crocheted and sewed for us.
Christmas morning dawned. I dragged myself out of bed before my parents (there must have been a little bit of kid-on-Christmas morning excitement in me), and looked out my bedroom window. White. The hill in our backyard, the fields beyond, the stark winter trees all covered in a blanket of fresh white snow!
I woke up my parents. We all looked out, amazed at the sight—the first white Christmas since I was very little. Mom and I headed to the kitchen, where we cooked pumpkin pancakes and talked about the big snow of ’78 and how this one was not as big, but enough to build a snowman.
|Courtesy of SnowCrystals.com|
As the morning evolved, we made cookies and candy like we did every Christmas. My stepdad took his usual spot at the table—cracking nuts for the pecan candy and peanut butter balls and to taste test our creations. He, of course, raved over the peanut butter balls and exclaimed that they were all his. We laughed and ate until our bellies hurt. I played in the snow, relishing the feel of soft snowflakes, each one confiding its unique beauty to me for just a moment before melting on my fingers.
Sometime that afternoon, we opened our presents and retrieved our treats from the stockings. I remember hugging my mother so very tightly; thanking her for the pretty scarf she’d spent night after night crocheting for me. Our supper consisted of potato soup and sausage cornbread (turkey was too expensive that year). I snuggled with Mom on the couch while we watched some classic Christmas movies on network TV.
I went to bed on Christmas night with a light and grateful heart. We had little in terms of things, but what we had that year was an overflowing of love and togetherness that I’ll cherish for as long as I live.
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Merry Christmas and stay tuned for even more Christmas memories from some fabulous authors!