I’m allergic to Christmas. I was about 9 when I got my first case of hives from trying to help carry the Christmas tree into the house, and at that point I just decided that the whole deal wasn’t worth the effort. (Later I learned that I was also allergic to all things wool…including CASHMERE…and I blamed Christmas for that too.)
Other people get excited about going to the mall to shop for gifts, decorating the tree and making fancy cookies. I avoid department stores like the plague and buy whatever I have to online, don’t own any ornaments or lights, and…well, I will eat a cookie or two, as long as I don’t have to bake them.
Now, I’m not a total Grinch. I love to give presents and I don’t go around spilling the holiday beans to little kids. I mean, just because I learned the word MYTH when I was about 5 by looking Santa up in the World Book encyclopedia doesn’t mean that I shared that information indiscriminately! I was pretty proud of myself for not believing in such a ridiculous story, but I didn’t feel the need to ruin it for anyone else, thankfully.
When we were little, Mama always gave us a great Christmas, even when money was tight. Her specialty was the Christmas stocking. She used lonnnnng ladies hose (the support variety) and they were filled with just about anything you might ever think about wanting…mini-toys, a yo-yo, candy, hair ties, pencil sharpeners, little notebooks or coin purses, makeup (when we were older), jewelry…and fruit. We usually cast the good-for-you things aside pretty quickly while we dug to find the best loot, which was always stuffed way down in the toe. Mama really went to a lot of trouble to make sure that those stockings were full. She bought and hid bags of cheap finds from the dime store all year long, always getting two of everything so that Lynnie and I wouldn’t fight. My best memories of the holidays are of methodically unloading and unwrapping the mysteries stashed in those three feet of thick, stretchy, taupe-colored nylon…tossing tangerines to the side and marveling over whatever was right below them.
I never told my sister that those treats came from Mama and not from Santa. Our best friend from across the street eventually took care of that, but I’m pretty sure my sister just went on believing in Santa for a while longer. Shortly after she finally caved and accepted the truth, Lynnie got really good at snooping each year until she found the gifts hidden in Mama’s closet…long before Christmas morning. I don’t remember ever believing in Santa, but it was my little sister’s knowledge that it was Mama (and not a mythical old man) who knew that we liked Tinkerbell lip gloss and that hard candy wasn’t nearly as desirable as Hershey’s Kisses, that saddened me a little.
My mom and sister live together, and I’m on the opposite coast from them. I’ll bet you that if I went through Mama’s closet today, I’d find bags from Walmart and the Dollar Store, filled with fun little gifts for my sister and her (now grown up) children’s stockings. I’d also wager that Lynnie knows exactly what’s in those bags, and that she’s got a stocking planned for our mama, turning the Santa tables in quite a lovely way.
Happy holidays everyone. I hope you and yours have a joyous week filled with very little work, a lot of egg nog and cookies (that I didn’t make…sorry), and that someone loves you enough to give you mostly Hershey’s Kisses and only a few tangerines.