I thought I’d share another Christmas memory. The last one got some good reactions. The thing I like best about Christmas is the stories of love, peace and harmony, in a world that is rocked daily by just the opposite. So, enjoy this little vignette from my trove of Christmas memories.
SANTA AND THE PARCEL POST
Last Christmas my 30-year-old son, Michael, came to spend the holiday with me. The day before Christmas eve we went to the local nursery to buy a Christmas tree.
The air smelled like snow and the nursery yard was filled with a maze of trees you used to hide in from your parents when you were small. There was a blazing fire in a barrel and free apple cider. Mike had just broken up with his girl friend of two years and I was doing a non-stop monologue, trying to cheer him up.
As we walked deeper into the fragrant forest, I stopped yammering and filled my lungs with the scent of the evergreens. I hugged myself as my eyes misted up with what is one of my most wonderful memory of childhood.
My mom and dad were in the florist business and at Christmas they made wreathes in the basement of our gigantic brownstone. Every time I smell those evergreens, I remember the warmth of my parents love, our simple lives and the beauty of Christmas.
Mike said, “You remembering when you were a kid, right, Ma? What’s your favorite Christmas story from then?” Without hesitation, I recalled the year I had asked for a Toni Doll. I was eight. Most of our relatives lived out of town, the toy givers in Baltimore. In my secret heart of hearts, even though the adults in my life liked to keep me guessing as to whether I’d been good enough, I knew that Auntie Helen would come through. I never let on that I knew about the arrival of a brown truck about two weeks before Christmas that would deliver a mysterious package that would end up hidden behind Mommy’s winter coat in the big closet.
So, every day I waited at 4:00PM when the truck usually arrived. There was no truck. One night I heard Mommy and Daddy talking about the great Parcel Post strike and what to do if no toys arrived for the kids. The truck came the week after Christmas, the strike settled. My elbows were sore from leaning on the window sill, and my forehead was permanently red from leaning on the glass.
I thought that was a bleak Christmas, indeed. Mom and Dad decided that it would be a good lesson for us kids to see that Christmas wasn’t just presents. When the Toni Doll arrived with a complete hand-made wardrobe, I was so happy. Then, that was a happy ending. But I think it was the beginning of knowing that the best present don’t come from Santa and United Parcel Service. The best ones are the people you love. Merry Christmas, Mike.