This is about a Christmas that made a memory that can never be removed from my heart.
|Christmas from Across the River
word count 1003
Well, it is about Christmas time again. Time for shopping, cooking, and traffic. Not to mention stressed with the questions of “WHAT?”. What would he like? What am I going to cook? What store carries this?
I think we should take the time to remember yester-year. You know the family traditions. All the cousins gathering to eat at Mammal’s long table with food that seemed to go on forever.
Yes, I always remember my grandmother’s Christmas gatherings. My mom and aunts all cooking in the kitchen. The house smelled of apple pie and home made dressing. I loved to play in front of the house. The porch became our favorite gym. My cousins and I would throw basket balls on the roof and see who would catch it when it came bouncing down playing an unbalanced ret hem for those inside. We always had gifts from aunts, uncles, mom, dad, and Mammal. The multi-colored gifts nearly covered her brightly lit tree.
Yes, I miss those big family Christmases, but I have a more memorable Christmas. The best Christmas memory that I could ever have. It is a Christmas across the river.
That was a winter when the river was frozen so thick that we could not brake the ice to pull our row boat across to the other bank. So we did not get to go to my grandmother’s house that year. My parents hadn’t been across the water in a long time so I just knew that there would be no happiness this Christmas. No Mammal, no gifts, no tree, no holiday dinner, and no family. Yes, I was expecting a wonderful Christmas, not!
Christmas was coming anyway. My sisters and I went through our toys (as old as they may have been) and wrapped them and labeled the home-made cards with the name each other. We wrapped them it paper bags, shirts, and aluminum foil.
My sister Sally, who was the baby at 4, took a paper bag and wrapped up her prized possion (Granny Beasley doll) . However, before she could have made up her mind who would now receive her favorite doll, she unwrapped her. Old Granny Beasley was found beside the road when Sally was 2, and Mom had since made her 2 bodies. Granny seemed to grow as Sally did. Each body was longer than the last. Sally could not give up the only bed buddy that she had ever known (besides Jen and me that is). She could not see braving the dark nights with out Granny by her side.
Then our dad asked us if we wanted to go and find a tree. Finding a tree where we lived with no neighbors for miles would be as easy as sliding on the icy river. So we went out with our dad, slipping and sliding on the frozen ice. We walked through the snow about 500 feet from the house, and Dad cut down this prickly pine. We were all little girls 8,6,4. So Dad had to carry the tree back to our old house where he barely pulled it through the door.
When the tree was carried into the living room, Dad had to cut branches off the giant symbol of our Christmas. I still smell the pine sometimes. None of us would touch it for awhile because its’ needles were so sharp. Then the three of us sat down to see what we could do for this old tree.
Wadding up the excess foil into balls, found small toys, made paper chains out of paper bags we cut and colored, and string popcorn. This was beginning to be more fun than we had thought. Especially when I had an Idea to melt our crayons (the few that we had) on the coal stove. I got an Pepsi can (Pepsi and a honey bun was our mother‘s three meals a day), cut off the top, and filled it with the one color after another. Then we lined up the objects of our creations and dripped the colors onto them. Not one drop was the same as the last. Some would run and have drops dry just hanging. The pine cones looked so beautiful to me with the drops of red, blue, green, and yellow hanging off them. Then it was time to place them so carefully on the green giant tree.
Baby Sally didn’t want anything to do with touching those pointy pine needles so she just reached them to us. She, having a heart condition and the spoiled baby, told us just where to hang them too. A lopsided ball of shiny spotted foil here, a cut out paper-bag star there, and Onedia (my doll) at the top. I bet this wasn’t as beautiful as I saw it, but the image is still as lovely in my mind now as it was them.
You know I don’t remember the dinner that year. The memories of the weather is no longer in found in my mind. I do however, remember one gift. I will never forget black cat with a very long tail. My sisters had each unwrapped a stuffed animal. One had a dog and the other received a bear. I played with that cat forever. Pretending to stop robberies with its long tail. It was my favorite thing in the whole world. My mom had cut her badly needed black fake fur coat to give us those home made animals.
I wonder if my three little angels would understand the meaning of a fussy long tailed cat. With no price tag, no noise, and wasn‘t inspired by a cartoon; would they have any comprehension of what my favorite belonging meant to me if it had survived the years.
This was the best Christmas of my life. Praise God that having nothing gave me so much. It has helped me all these years to look for the blessing of my black cat in every situation though out the years.