Friday, December 21, 2007

A Few More Memories of Christmas

The year Richard was born, my husband was working as a department store Santa. So, here they are together. Richard was a very unusual Santa's lap baby, in that he didn't cry. I think it was because he recognized Dick's voice. Since I taught the kids that Santa was a story that wasn't real, this is the only picture of either of them on Santa's lap that exists.

I've always liked this picture -- it is so unlikely that the person under that outfit is a tall, slim, 21 year old. A young actor getting experience at everything he could, rather than an older man down on his luck.

There was the year we had to attach the top of the tree to the curtain rods with guy wires because that year's crop of kittens, Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser, kept climbing it and pulling it over. You can't see the wires here, but this was the tree and that is Fafhrd and Mouser playing with an ornament they've knocked over. And, yes, I know that Fafhrd is supposed to be very tall and the Mouser short and sleek -- and when they were fully grown, my boys fit the myth. Meanwhile, Mouser was older than Fafhrd, and so bigger for a while.

There were the college years, when the tree was decorated with origami cranes and strings of popcorn and cranberries. I think that this is the one the lot owner wouldn't let me pay for. The kids were so young, Julie less than one, that even though the naked tree was there when they went to bed, they were amazed at the decorations when they woke up. They were so delighted with the decorations we didn't get around to presents until about mid-morning.

There was the tree in Fairbanks that Julie brought home at the beginning of Christmas break that got frozen on the bus and proceeded to drop needles by the fistfuls, until it was half bald by Christmas morning. The last day of school before break, the teachers asked if anyone knew someone who needed a tree, and Julie said that we couldn't afford one and so they gave it to her. We could have afforded one, really. However, I'm not too proud to take a perfectly good tree.

The year that I was waiting tables and the tips were so good that the presents threatened to lift the tree to the ceiling it looked a lot like this. This tree was at my parents' house a couple of years before we moved to Fairbanks. And, at this point Richard and Julie were the only children in the family, and it was all for them. All the presents and all the attention.

And then there was the year we were driving to Big Delta from Fairbanks and ran into a white out and had to turn back. We ended up having sandwiches at the only restaurant in town that was open and feeling very grateful indeed. Not only was someone feeding us, which in my exhausted state from driving for three hours at 6 mph with full knowledge that the lives of my children depended on me was more than I could have done, but the skid that could have smashed us into the mountainside or over the cliff hadn't. For a while there I had been trapped in the nightmare that we had wandered into the Twilight Zone and nothing existed except for the seven feet of snowy road that I could see directly in front of me. In one way, that grilled cheese sandwich was the best Christmas dinner I ever ate.

There were the wonderful "Granny Christmases" that Maya, Julie, Ted, and I had when I was in California over Thanksgiving. We had Granny Christmas for several years because I had a month vacation at Catholic Community Service. Then I left there, and my next two jobs not only did I not have a full month vacation but I was needed in November. Sad. I loved those November vacations. A week with Julie, Ted, and Maya. A week with Kate. Two weeks with Mama and Aunt Flo. Thanksgiving dinner with Ted's family -- a wonderful experience with relatives coming out of the woodwork.

Click on photos to enlarge


J at said...

Wonderful memories...I guess I'm lucky I don't remember the one with the white out. Scary!

Jill said...

I love these rememberances, MG. You can come to my house for grilled cheese sandwiches anytime!