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Thursday, December 16, 2010


   My fondest childhood memories are of Christmas. My mama always made this time of year extra special. It was packed full of traditions.
   Our tree was always cut from the back pasture and never resembled a triangle. Colored lights and silver tinsel were our theme.
   We had the green porcelain tree that had a light bulb inside that beamed through the little colored pegs on the tips of the branches. It stood in the center of the mantle above the fireplace beside the mechanical Santa and Mrs. Claus. I don't recall ever having stockings.
   My dad still has the candle lanterns we always placed in our windows. You remember, the ones with the white bulbs with orange tips? I used to love going through the house plugging those in every night.
   Mama always seemed to be in a jolly-ish kind of mood from Thanksgiving, throughout December. I'd sit and watch her meticulously wrap every present. {I now do the same thing myself}
   She baked a lot. I don't remember a lot of the details, but everyone always requested her Rum Cake for bake sales and gifts. Her chocolate pie was out of this world. That's a goal on my list next year...make the perfect chocolate pie!
   On Christmas Eve every one of my siblings were there for supper, and their children too. It was great! The cousins would bring their significant others and friends, even unannounced sometimes. That was okay with mama. She worked at a hosiery mill and always kept a few extra boxes of socks in the hall closet. If you were a girl, she'd pull out one of her Southern Living items that she had stock piled in said closet!
   There was always plenty of food. We finally got to use the fancy dishes. 
   When they would begin to arrive at our house, my sisters and brothers in law would tell us that they had seen Santa in the sky, or that they had heard on the radio that he had taken off from the North Pole and was headed our way. I was the youngest person in our family. I ate the whole thing up. It was a fun, cheerful time. Not a care in the world down there at the dead end of Reece Road.
   And then, when the all the presents had been passed out, I would duck and peek, making sure that none had been forgotten under the tree.
   Then, the second wave of people would come. Daddy's side of the family. Our house was packed! It was great! They'd come for dessert and coffee. Then we'd do the whole thing again, I saw Santa here and there they'd say. He never seemed to be going in the same direction.
   Then, when all had quietened down and all the guests had gone home, I'd lay awake in my bed for what seemed like an eternity listening for the slightest foot step of the big guy in red. I was always so worried about him getting burned by the embers in the fireplace.
   Before I knew it though, it was morning! And Santa had indeed come and I must have fallen asleep because I never heard him!
   Christmas Day was just as special, just as fun. Not only did we celebrate the fact that it was Jesus' birthday, but it was also mama's birthday!  The family was all together again that day. And MORE dessert!
   Christmas 1992 was mama's last Christmas.  I was 11 that year. It's never been the same. There's been a void ever since.  Santa never came after that. If I had known then what I know now, I would have bottled it all up and poured it all out for my little family now. {I can't listen to Faith Hill sing "Where are you Christmas" without balling my eyes out!}
   We aren't usually at our own home on the actual Christmas Eve and Day, and so for as long as we can pull it off, there will be 2 of each of those days for my kids! We usually celebrate Christmas Eve and Day with our little guys {and gal this year}, ahead of time, before we head up north.
   So, tomorrow, Friday, December 17th, is Christmas Eve and Santa comes tomorrow night! And on Saturday, it's Jesus' birthday, and we'll treat it as such- with a great breakfast and a birthday cake!
   But Jim's mom, she's got it going on! We head up to northern Illinois during the holidays, where there is almost always a promise of a White Christmas! Jim's whole family is there.
    We are there for about a week and there's always something baking, coffee brewing and Christmas music playing on the kitchen stereo.
   And on Christmas Eve...we all head over to Jim's grandma's house, just like they have Jim's entire life {he's the oldest of all the grandkids}. This year, the final tally comes to 33. From 5 months to  86 years old!!!
   And they have so many traditions, I'm still trying to figure some of them out.
   On Christmas morning, Santa even comes and hands out all 19 stockings to those of us at Jim's mom's house. Then we have a breakfast that is out of this world. Followed by the gift exchange, in order from the youngest to the oldest.
   So for now, I'll pour out all I can for my little anxious munchkins, mustering up all the great memories and creating some of our very own.
   Christmas Eve, crammed in a tiny, hot, suburban home might not be all that appealing, but my children will remember every second of it, and love every minute.
From our family to yours, 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from the Brown's

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