Christmas Reflections - Part 1

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I was thinking about my Christmas memories, some of which are now amusing, some sad, some heartwarming, and I realized for the millionth time how blessed I have been.

I grew up poor. How poor, I probably will never really have any idea. Just today I was discussing with my sister the burdens my parents had at my age that I will never understand. Four children, financial constraints, health issues to contend with from both my dad and siblings, my mom and dad must have been at their wits' end in a way I cannot imagine.

But Christmas time at our house was always very warm, happy and full of light. Even though my parents must have been counting pennies and worrying about how to make it all work, my only memories are thrill, delight and warmth.

I think my earliest Christmas memory must have been when I was three years old, as I recall my infant sister being there. I have zero childhood recollection of believing in Santa Clause, but I have many memories thinking "my parents are naive if they think this Santa guy is real!"

When I was four and five years old, my parents had embarked on their Great Adventure (discussed at length in historical posts if you're curious) where for 18 months they rented out their home and we lived in a motor home, traveling the western half of North America. I have incredibly distinct memories of these Christmases. One was spent in Why, Arizona (you'll have to go look that up!), and camped out in a very rural RV park in the middle of the dessert, we decorated a creosote bush. I have vague recollections of seeing a Christmas display or parade in nearby Ajo, AZ.  Our other American Christmas was spent in Del Rio, Texas - and my sister was busy chatting with the bunnies and birds and cactus plants, while I was riding my first bicycle!

One of my favorite of all childhood Christmas memories was when I was seven. Remember in the Santa Clause movie with Tim Allen when they talk about the toys they really wanted most as children? The weenie whistle?! Well my weenie whistle was the Pretty Crimp'n'Curl Cabbage Patch doll. I wanted one so bad. I thought they were about the most amazing thing ever, and I had loved my original first edition Cabbage Patch doll so much. On Christmas morning, I couldn't believe my eyes when my sister and I each opened our very own dolls. Mine was Jillian Paulette, and I still have her to this day.

As we got a little older, the family tradition became to open first one present on Christmas Eve and then at some point we began doing all our presents on Christmas Eve, saving Christmas morning as a day to sleep in, be a little lazy and hang out as a family. I must have a million pictures of each member of my family making goofy faces as they open and display a new gift. My dad was always the biggest ham of all, the biggest kid at Christmas, and we have hundreds of pictures of him laughing and smiling with his gifts.

To this day, I still like tacky retro tinsel, Oak Ridge Boys Christmas songs, and cheesy, meaningful ornaments hanging on my tree. I am very grateful that no matter the circumstances they were going through, my parents made an effort to preserve in our memories the happiness of Christmas.

Me, circa 1985.