I am the product of a mixed marriage. Mother embraced Christmas with all the enthusiasm of a four-year-old while Daddy had to be pulled, kicking and fighting into the season, dreading the ruckus and expense. Mother felt the Christmas tree had to be up no later than December 18, to get maximum joy from it. Daddy dawdled around as long as possible, insisting December 22 was the earliest it could go up. He always put it off until Mother was about to blow a gasket.
Finally, he’d hook the trailer to his old tractor, fetch his power saw and call us to all pile on for the search. We’d bump over rutted farm trails, hanging on for dear life. Mother and Phyllis would be clinging to the little ones while Mother yelled for Daddy to take it slow. Daddy had plenty of kids and assured Mother we were having a great time as we clutched the rails. Most of the time we were. Before long, we’d be combing through several groves while Daddy rejected tree after tree. Finally, he’d steer us toward the one he’d earmarked weeks or months earlier.
The roar of his power saw signaled the fall of the tree. Sometimes, Mother wouldn’t be quite satisfied and would bring home an extra, which she wired together with the first to make it fuller.
Eventually, the tree trimming was complete, every ball, string of tinsel, and special ornament in place. Mother garnished it with shimmering fiberglass angel hair. Every year when the lights came on, we oohed and ah’ed our gorgeous tree, assuring ourselves that this year’s was the most beautiful we’d ever had.
The most thrilling Christmas gift I ever got was a red wooden rocking horse, named Rocky. I was so excited Christmas Eve I woke up half a dozen times asking if it was time to get up yet. Finally, about four o’clock, Mother and Daddy gave up the battle. We had to stay in our rooms for eons till Mother got coffee made. When she and Daddy were finally settled in the living room, they let us come in to see what Santa had brought. The tree, lights shimmering beneath the angel hair was breathtaking. Off to one side sat my red rocking horse! It was really bouncing horse on springs. I must have bounced ten-thousand miles on Rocky, the frame jumping off the floor till Mother couldn’t stand the racket and slowed me down.
Santa also brought me some other gifts. I was delighted to see the biggest box of all was for me unfortunately containing a tea set. I was initially disgusted, but later found the plates and cups very useful in my construction projects, excellent for scooping mud and sand for road building. The tea pot came in handy for irrigation. Despite my insistence that I didn’t want one, Santa just couldn’t get it through his head that I really, really hated baby dolls. This year’s model was a hard plastic life-size doll with molded hair. I hated it on sight. The icing on the cake was opening my grandma’s gift and finding her twin. There’s nothing better than two of something you hate! I was worldly enough by this time not to announce to the world that I hated dolls as I opened them, so I am here to tell the tale
Billy got the obligatory cap pistols, holster, and hat. I tried to work up a trade for my twin babies, pointing out we could hang them, then have fine funerals. I almost had him convinced till Daddy heard me trying to get his boy to swap guns for baby dolls and …………..well, it didn’t happen. Phyllis got a fine pogo stick, which worked just great till she wore out the stopper on the end. After that, she hopped around punching holes in the yard till she hit a soft spot and buried up. That could be fun, too.
It was a fine Christmas. Thanks Santa, Mother, and Daddy. Oh yes, except for that stupid tea set and baby doll. I told you I didn’t want one!
Even Daddy, determined to be the “Man of the House,” found it hard to defend Willie Tharpe after Willie set the bed on fire, sneaked the dogs in the house, and left us with a maddening infestation of fleas that Christmas. Though he never acknowledged his embarrassment, Daddy never invited Willie to sleep in the house again. Periodically, Continue reading
Throughout my life, I’ve gotten a number of surprising to downright crazy gifts.
1. Armadillo made of dried manure.
2. Venus Fy Trap dead.
3. Yam pralines
4. Wormy Pecans
5. Paper Plates
6. Mens undershirts
7. Hand-embroidered horse head sweatshirt in fluorescent pink
8. Panties with messages printed across the rear: Hello! Wanna Be Friends? Do theses Panties Make My Butt Look Big?
9. Size 6 slippers
10. Moldy homemade Christmas treats.
If you have to exchange gifts at Christmas in large extended families, drawing names is the lesser of two evils. Fewer tasteless, outrageous gifts tantalize the hopeful. Desperate relatives save the expense and time spent shopping for hideous gifts that hit the trash or wait to be regifted the next Christmas. Continue reading
We’d put away all the Christmas decorations weeks before. We’d finally gotten our eighteen month old, John, to bed after several unsuccessful attempts and had collapsed, totally whipped. Meanwhile, he’d been entertaining himself rummaging quietly through a dresser drawer we’d thought inaccessible. After a few minutes, he toddled into the living room victorious dragging garland, an ornament in each hand, announcing, “Santa Claus is coming to town. I’ll be damned!”