Monday, December 19, 2005

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Most of what I remember about Christmas as a child is a big old letdown. You could be sure that I'd be bawling on Christmas night because it was all over for another year. The hype began early in November and the magic of Santa was all focused on that one night when him and the reindeer came swooping across the roof to make our dreams come true. I swear, there was sleigh tracks in the snow one year, and jingle bells to boot. I can't rightly remember what I got that Christmas....only that my family was together and cozy and happy. Them two bratty little brothers of mine would come down the steps to where Mama was sleeping on the couch in front of the fire and poke her real good to make sure it was okay to jump on the loot. She always was a fool for the magic of Christmas, bless her heart. It was special to her, and still is. I reckon if I snuck in before dawn next Sunday, she'd be camped out on the couch waitin' for the big day with visions of sugarplums and whatnot.

Breakfast is the meal of the day for our family and it's best enjoyed inside the walls of the log cabin we know and love served on the Christmas china. In years past our neighbor Earl provided home made country sausage with just the right amount of heat to compliment Mama's scratch biscuits. I may buy the frozen kind now, but by golly I can make a good tasting one when I have to because she taught me well. Scrambled eggs. Bacon. Gaga's cheese grits. One year we went to my aunt and uncle's house instead and they cooked a dozen eggs for 20 people and by the time I got there it was biscuit and bacon time. What were they thinkin'??

Gaga had the money to splurge on all of us and she did it every year. I don't remember a single thing that I got, truth be told. I do remember the aluminum tree with the rotating color lights. I remember me and all my cousins piling in there like we just knew we were gonna make a haul. Everybody talked and laughed and got exhausted really quick because Santa had already come at the crack of dawn at our own houses.

Later on, when Gaga was really old and living in the assisted living place I'd take her to the SuperStore and push her around in the wheelchair to pick out all of our socks and underwear. Then we'd go back to her place and wrap it all up real pretty. She never gave up on the spirit of giving, even when she was a poor old lady supported by her girls and Medicare.

I buy my own undies now because nobody knows my size or what I like up against my skin. Things are more about the reason for the season and less about going into debt. Sleighbells rarely ring in West Tennessee on cue for the holidays. That's okay though. I still remember the way they sounded when my Daddy climbed the roof.