Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas, Old and New

The Holidays are indeed a time of looking back as well as forward. For some reason, the memory of my very best Christmas comes to mind lately. We lived in southern Missouri, just over the boarder from Arkansas. I had just finished second grade when my mom and dad had a terrible crisis in their marriage and separated. Dad took my brother and sister and me to his mother's farm way out in the boonies in Arkansas.
In some ways it was a fun summer and in some utterly miserable. The good parts were that we got to play with all our cousins and Grandma made fresh dinner buns every day, oh how I loved those buns, and we got to go swimming in the sluice ditches for the rice fields Grandpa was experimenting with. We had to watch out for snakes and Grandpa stood guard but that only added to the excitement that we were doing something unusual.
As the oldest I was supposed to help watch out for my brother and sister and I took my duties most seriously, even getting mad at Grandma and bawling her out. when my brother fell and hit his head and she didn't cuddle him. That sassing netted me a sit in the corner, and I admit I hold a grudge, so I was never as close to grandma after that. I thought she was mean and mom and dad were far away. She further annoyed me during a tornado when she sat in her rocking chair through a tornado, her rockers squeeching on the hard wood floors, while she gripped the rocker arms and chanted a litany that she wasn't afraid, that she was ready to go to heaven if the Good Lord wanted to take her. She was more scared than we little ones were. But I remember thinking, I'm not ready to die and go to heaven. I willed her to be silent in case God heard her and took her up on her words.
Well, the tornado passed and so did the summer. I became tired of staying with Grandpa and Grandma and began to pester her about when my dad was coming to get us. She informed me that Daddy wasn't coming back for us, that he and mom were getting a divorce and we'd have to live with her the rest of our lives. I was devastated. I'd already put Grandma down as a heartless woman who didn't love us and didn't want us. It's a miserable way to live.
Then miracle of miracles, my dad came down the dirt road, hanging out the car window waving at us with a huge grin on his face. My father was a very handsome man, Black Irish with black wavy hair, beautiful blue eyes and flashing white teeth. My first hero. I cried when I ran into his arms and asked him if he was taking us home. He assured us he was. Summer was over and we had to start to school. He and mom were not going to divorce, in fact, they had worked things out and had moved into Blythesville where they had a new house for us to move to. I was so happy. We left that very day and I never went back for a visit with grandpa and grandma. Mom and Dad were understandably upset with her.
That fall just kept getting better and better. I started my new school and loved third grade. Mom and Dad smiled a lot. Our house was so happy, then came Christmas time. They got a big tree and we helped decorated it with lots of ornaments and strings of lights, then mom wrapped angel hair all around it. Angel Hair isn't used now because it's considered too much of a fire hazard, but back then it was all the rage. I loved the angel hair on the tree. It diffused the lights and made the tree beyond belief beautiful. I would stand and stare at it with awe. On Christmas morning, Santa Claus found us at our new house and he brought lots of toys. I got a baby doll that I adored and dishes for my dolls. My sister and I had tea with our dollies and yelled at our brother when he bumped into us with his cars and trucks.
No matter how old I get and how wonderful each Christmas, I still remember that magical Christmas time. We were safe again with our mom and dad near by watching over us. Oh sure, there were arguments again and making up and tears and sometimes I hated my parents for it, but only later did I understand, they were a volatile combination and they loved each other very much. They were married until my father died and mother never remarried. I think she missed him very much. No matter what emotional upheavals we go through, we have to look back at the wonderful magic that life holds. My mom and Dad gave me that and I'll always think of Christmas through a veil of Angel Hair.


Patricia Kiyono said...

What a fabulous memory! I'm so glad the story had a happy ending.

Bronwyn Green said...

This was absolutely beautiful, Temple! Thank you for sharing!