This Christmas with our daughter was fun... every year gets a little better, and the magic of the day seems to resonate with all of us when we see the excitement she has when she gets something she really likes. Or when she realizes that Santa came and left her presents... and I had to deal with a hyperactive child last night, jumping up and down on the bed repeating "I love Santa Santa! I love Santa Santa!" - and then giggling hysterically because he came. When she woke up this morning, she wanted to know if she slept well. Then she wanted to know if Santa came (again).
I keep remembering the Christmases we had when I was growing up. As a family, we used to have a Christmas get-together with my dad's side of the family, changing where we would meet each year. One year at Grandmother's, one year at Uncle Roy's and Aunt Doris's, the next year at Aunt Martha's and Uncle Tom's, and then finally at our house - and then we'd start all over again. The houses were small and crowded, and the atmosphere joyous. Everyone pitched in and brought food, and the presents (although not expensive) were fun to open. As a young child, I was so happy to be with family. We didn't have much, but were all happy to be with each other. That changed a lot over the years.
I think the last Christmas we had met together as a group was when I was about 11. We were at my Grandmother's house. My parents thought it would be great to play a joke on Aunt Doris. Now, you have to understand, my Aunt Doris was a snob. She was one of those ladies who looked down on most people, and if something wasn't (in her opinion) top-notch, she was insulted. (It took me years to understand this about her, and when it finally got through, it was because she was criticizing me for something as stupid as in what order to hang pictures on a wall - good grief!)
Of course, her snootiness (if that is a word) didn't stop my dad from playing the joke. He loved life and loved having fun and playing jokes on people. So, he bought her a set of yellow bathroom floor mats shaped like feet - complete with black toenails. When she opened it up, all she could say was, "Well, I never!"
We all laughed. However, even though their actual gift was a nice bottle of their favorite alcoholic beverage, she never found it very funny. Needless to say, after that our Christmases were relegated to just us and Grandmother (either our house or hers).
I remember Christmas when I was 12. I had asked for a pair of pants I had seen in a J.C. Penney's catalog. I thought these were the neatest pants I'd ever seen, and I just knew I would look great in them. (Not "hot" mind you... that kind of thought didn't come to a kid in 1968 - we just wanted our clothes to look nice or cool. "Hot" was to come sometime down the years - when I was in my 20's.)
Come Christmas morning, I unwrapped my gifts and sure enough! I got the pants I wanted. I went straight to the bathroom to try them on and... OH NO! Somehow, I had lost the baby fat and now had curves - my waist was probably several inches too small, and they hung on the lower part of my hips. When the heck did that happen! How could Mom and Dad not see that I no longer had a little girl's build? Those pants got returned, and I don't remember what I ended up with instead. But it was an eye opening moment for me (and my parents, I believe) that I was growing up.
Yet another memorable Christmas. We got up, and I went into the bathroom. When my mom got up, she started walking down the hall... and you could hear the carpet go "Squish, squish". She was walking in water... and the only thing she could do was say it was my brother Richard's fault. He had to have been playing in the bathroom sink and allowed the water to overflow and now the carpet was soaked. And she was furious with him.
I had to point out the obvious... 'Uh, Mom.... Richard hasn't even been IN the bathroom this morning. AND - if the bathtroom faucet had overflowed, there would have been water on the bathroom floor - don't cha think?' She just kept on about how it was Richard, it had to be him, he had to have done something to get her carpet wet.
My dad began investigating and found that the water heater had busted. My poor brother was getting blamed for something that he didn't even have the anything to do with.
I remember probably one of my favorite Christmases was when I was 10. That was the year my mom and dad had given me my first camera. It was a Kodak, and took 126mm film. Actually, it took great pictures! I was so excited, because I could finally do something that my dad could do. However, it was costly to buy film and develop it, so I had to do it with my own allowance... needless to say, not too many pictures were taken with it. But I loved that camera dearly. (I wonder what happened to it? I probably threw it away when I got older, not realizing the sentimental value it would have had for me later.)
In looking back on the Christmas days that were special to me, I am hoping that I am creating special Christmas days for my daughter as well. I hope she looks back on these days fondly when she is a young woman, and hopefully, we won't have any instances of leaky water heaters to deal with.
On the bright side, Mama bought her a Kodak digital camera for kids. I have never seen a little girl get so excited - and she took great joy in taking pictures. I have posted here a few for your enjoyment. The ones of Mama are the ones that will make you laugh... but this is life from her perspective. I hope to nurture in her a way to express her creativity... and to allow her to experiment with her view of the world.
Here's to making many happy Christmas memories!
OK, so the last one was taken by her daddy.