Memories seem more intrusive on the conscious and more poignant around Christmas. Your Christmas memories are your own forever. If I may, I should like to share a few of mine.
Christmas with my first wife was in Abilene, Texas, some 57 years ago, and two years later Christmas with my firstborn, Cyndra, a scant 4 months old. Fast forward to 1974, and I celebrated the first Christmas with my present wife, Sue.
In Denver, 1984, I celebrated my first Christmas as a grandfather, with Erin, less than 8 weeks old. Winder, Georgia, was the scene of my first Christmas as a great grandfather. Beckett was 6 months old that day.
There are also the bitter memories, of 1953, my first Christmas away from home, as a young Marine, and my first Christmas following Daddy’s death, then Mama’s.
Amazingly, one’s recollection of the past seems to become clearer with age. Christmas of 1940 is vivid to me. I was four years old. Daddy, a hard-working, uneducated man with an insatiable appetite for women and booze, traded a milk cow, named “Jersey,” which he did not own, for a Delco generator stolen from the Works Progress Administration so we could have an 8-bulb strand of colored lights on our cedar Christmas tree.
We lived in a two-room house, a kitchen with a hard-packed dirt floor covered with faded, cracked linoleum, and the “rest of the house” which was one room, utilized as living room and all bedrooms. There was no electricity or running water.
Ah! But that tree was grand, thanks to Delco and the WPA.
A few days later, the WPA came and took their generator. Maybe the condition of our little family made them loath to press charges. The traded cow belonged to the farmer Daddy worked for, and he told him the whole story. Daddy was a good worker so the farmer said that since he had done it for his kids and not booze, and the cow was old, he would let it go. He took a quarter a week out of Daddy’s $7 pay for as long as Daddy worked for him.
Christmas 1944, Daddy was overseas with the Seabees. Two weeks before Christmas, my brother and I found the pup tent Mama had scrimped and bought. Mama worked in a grocery store and got home four hours after school was out. We got that tent out every afternoon, set it up, then took it down and put it back before she got home. Mama never knew.
There were church Christmas programs, put on for the entire congregation, with wretchedly performed manger scenes, but always with the obligatory net sock filled with fruit and assorted nuts.
I recall caroling, quite a chore in a sparsely populated area. We spent more time walking than caroling, but we were with friends and making memories just the same.
Recent memories abound, like going with my granddaughter, Kymi, to help out at the East Cobb Lions Club Meals on Wheels on Christmas morning three years ago.
Following a Texas tradition, Sue and I will have tamales and margaritas after Christmas Eve mass and play a few games of Yahtzee. We will go to help at Meals on Wheels on Christmas morning.
Friends gone before us invade our reverie, intended or not. At Christmas, I remember my dear friend and fellow actor, Jim Brooks. Jim wrote a Christmas poem which, though I have quoted it here before, I want to share it again as I wish you the Merriest and most blessed of all Christmases:
It’s Christmastime in Marietta, and all around the square,
From Ivy Grove to Glover Park, the Season fills the air.
The Gazebo is dressed in greenery and bows; lights adorn the trees
Candles glow in stately homes all along Church and Cherokee.
Shoppers dash from store to store looking for presents more than just “so-so,”
While the train whistle echoes remind of Christmases past at the Old Depot.
Carolers gather around the Old Fountain to sing of the Season’s best,
Stirring the heart for that Special Day with family prayer and rest.
It’s Christmastime in Marietta, the Gem City of the South, to be sure.
May God Bless You and Yours and always keep you secure.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.