Many of us have warm fuzzy memories of childhood Christmastime. I lived my first 7 years in Chester, PA and winters were brutal at that point in time. We measured snow in feet rather than inches. Our backyard was a hill and the neighbor had a great sled run which we used religiously at every opportunity.
While living in Pennsylvania we had a live tree every year despite my older sister’s allergies. She must have sneezed her way through every Christmas season but Mother was determined to have a live tree. I remember the old fashioned lights on the tree that burned hot and I had more than a few burn blisters to prove how hot those suckers were. But you didn’t dare utter a sound…Mother had warned us numerous times, so if you got burned it was your fault. No crying or whining allowed.
My dad was a merchant marine and was at sea more than he was home. But every third Christmas was his time to be home for the holidays. My mother would be so excited as she prepared for the big day knowing Dad would walk through the door soon. A few years he made it home for the gift opening by a whisker but he would do anything in his power to be there no matter how bad the weather.
The years Dad was sailing across the globe, Mother would make sure we understood every gift other than Santa’s were what Dad wanted us to have, in spite of the fact he never had a clue what she had bought for us. We believed her without doubt and thought we had the most fabulous dad in the whole world. She carried on this tradition until the day she died. That’s when we realized Dad was basically clueless concerning our gifts, in spite of the fact he had been receiving 100% credit for them all those years.
When I look back at those years filled with innocent belief, I treasure the Christmas mornings when the entire family was in the living room, wrapping paper flying through the air and Mother’s grin as she watched each of us open gifts, Dad sipping his coffee as he enjoyed being home. Those memories are gold. Now if I could just figure out why Mother thought giving bicycles during snowstorms was a good idea.