Prompt: Christmas Eve Memory
|Christmas Eve 1957 is the year I remember as a time of laughter and smiles. Laughter, for a Christmas memory still with me and smiles for a time that is gone. As a child I didn't realize that the greatest gift wasn't presents under the tree but my relatives. Determined and stoic with their circumstances they gathered to celebrate Jesus' birth and to visit with one another. While, I ran through the house playing with my cousin's, laughter filled the rooms. I thought the happiness I felt would last forever.
We always met at my maternal grandparent's home on Christmas Eve. They lived on a hill between two hills and everywhere you walked involved a climb. Just as strenuous their way of life - an outhouse, wood heat and cookstove, no telephone or television. On the washstand an enameled dishpan and water-bucket we used for cleaning and drinking.
The day before the celebration my grandfather would cut a cedar tree. Watching from the window, I waited for his return. Earlier in the day, he filled a five-gallon bucket with dirt. Upon his return, I would run to watch my grandparents wrestle the tree through the door. Since the tree toppled the bucket, they tied it with binder twine and tacked one end of the twine to the door frame and the other end to a window frame. I helped with the tree decorations; we held our breath when we plugged in the lights because if one didn't work you didn't have lights.
On Christmas Eve we crowded the house. No one noticed my escapade, one I had practiced for that involved climbing. Standing on a turtle back trunk, I grabbed the column that supported the shelf on my grandfather's dresser. A large contraption with several drawers, a large mirror and a shelf that served as a medicine cabinet. Among, the bottles of Sloan's Liniment and various salves rested the prize - my grandfather's false teeth. On top of the dresser, I grabbed the uppers and made my descent. Not content to look at them I tried to shove them in my mouth. After several attempts, one of my cousins ran by and I took out forgetting about the teeth. Later my grandmother found them under some wrapping paper. We all wondered why they didn't get stepped on. Since there was no harm done, I became known as the famous tooth nabber. This is the memory that brings me laughter. Today I wear what I wanted then - false teeth.
I cherish my memory of that Christmas Eve but I think more on the memories that make me smile. First, I smile at the innocence of my childhood. Sheltered by my family and the time period I lived in I knew nothing of the problems of the world or even the problems within my family. I have lost that innocence but I know that it is still within me and every so often it appears again, surprising me with the thought that all is well. My smiles continue when I think of my family, all of us poor money-wise but coming together at Christmas to laugh, play and enjoy one another's company.
The greatest gift I received was a family who despite their problems remained together. Their ability to not lose hope, to laugh at the antics of their children and to enjoy the magic of Christmas. Poor people, who unwrapped their dollar gift and shouted, "Oh, my just what I wanted!"