Monday, December 24, 2018

BEST CHRISTMAS EVER

Reworked from Dec 11, 2009

I've been lucky enough growing up to have seen both ends of the spectrum of financial status. Though we were never rich, I would call a good portion of our lives "comfortable." But then there were the times when things were really hard. All the moving for my mother's health, sometimes left us precariously close to "poor."

As a child, you don't notice your financial status till it comes to Christmas time. Only then do you realize, you are not quite like your friends when you start comparing what you got for Christmas. Prior to that, you ate enough, had clothes to cover you, and toys to play with and friends who never noticed. Nothing made you realize you were different.

When I was 12 we moved back to Ohio from Florida. My father had a construction company and he stayed behind in Key West to "shut down" the business. It was the only time we were ever separated as a family.

Mother had received a small inheritance and bought a tiny trailer for us to live in while we waited for Dad to join us. What I wasn't aware of was that my parents were undergoing serious marriage problems. Mother started talking about rekindling a relationship with her old college professor who had a crush on her and Dad kept putting off coming to Ohio and was rumored to be entertaining a lady friend visiting from Ohio.

One day Mother who was really doing poorly health wise, asked my brother and I that if she and Dad ever got a divorce, who would we want to live with? My brother thought a minute, then said he would live with Mother. I did not hesitate as I was a Daddy's girl and said I would want to live with my father.


That answer literally crushed my mother. I was her baby. She had desperately wanted a daughter and now that same daughter had just laid her heart bare with one sentence. She barely was able to say, "Well then I guess we won't be getting a divorce." Not knowing the pain I had caused, I was just grateful that a split was not happening, at least not right then.

However, I was worried by the conversation so I wrote my Dad a letter explaining what Mother had been discussing and that he needed to come home quickly. She did not know I had written it and Dad never acknowledged it but soon we got a call that he would be coming home for good at Christmas.

We were so excited Dad was coming but Mother warned us that Christmas would be very skimpy that year. I didn't care, my Daddy was coming home. He did arrive a few days before Christmas and all was good again in my 12 year old world. That I was probably getting nothing for Christmas didn't matter.

However Christmas night, I kept hearing noises out side. It was a hammering sound with occasional profanity from what I recognized as my Dad's voice. Finally I went to sleep to the tapping and cursing.

In the morning, my brother and I played with the dime store toys in our stockings thinking that was going to be all we got. We were delightfully surprised to find one gift for each of us under the meager tree. I wish I could remember what Jimmy got but I can't for I was blown away by my present.

One of our neighbor's hamster had babies and in the cage that my dad had spent part of the night constructing out of donated lumber and wire, were two to the cutest baby hamsters imaginable. For $3.50 the neighbors had supplied the hamsters, water bottle and of course the dreaded wheel.

Dad had bruised fingers and a black fingernail from building the cage. He never was a hammer and nail type of guy. He was the engineer in his construction company so the cage was way beyond his comfort zone. That explained the cursing.

That night when I went to sleep, my hands were curved like they were still holding the little hamsters who were now racing noisily around on their wheel. I had not put them down all day. Never in my almost 80 years have I had a better Christmas or better present.


Much later when I was in my mid thirties and after a family Christmas dinner, my Dad came up behind me as I washed dishes. He slid a dish in the water and said quietly in my ear, " I got your letter."

This totally confused me for I had not written him in years but then I realized he was finally acknowledging the letter I wrote him when I was 12 years old.

He then added, "I just want you to know your letter is what brought me home that year." I have no idea why he chose that time, over 20 years later, to tell me, but that ranked as the second best Christmas ever.

What Christmas stands out in your memory?

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERY ONE.


40 comments :

  1. My favorite Christmas was another when we had very little money. We lived in a rented house and I had two small children, one a few months old, the other was three. My sister and a friend of my husband's both rented rooms from us, and we made ends meet. We decorated a tree with popcorn and cranberries and managed to make a wonderful Christmas dinner. All of us together made it the best. And behind the scenes, I didn't realize it but my sister and the friend ended up getting married! :-)

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    Replies
    1. Djan,
      It seems some of our best Christmases did not need a lot of money. Sounds like you had a great time and that a marriage materialized out of the situation was just frosting on the cake.

      Delete
  2. Before we had kids, we had cats. On Christmas Eve my partner managed to cut off the tip of one of our cats tails in the door.


    Happy Christmas to you!!

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    Replies
    1. Joey,
      Thank you and that had to be the most memorable, especially for the cat:))

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  3. I love this story so much, Patti. Truly a gift of the heart. We never celebrated Christmas when I was growing up so I don't have a story to share. I send best wishes to you for a wonderful holiday.

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    1. robin,
      So glad you liked it. It was an important time in my life.
      You and roger have a wonderful holidays.

      Delete
  4. What a sweet story. We tend to say "kids are strong" when we talking about a family divorcing but their little hearts do break. I'm glad you Dad came back. Best present ever.

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    1. Barbara,
      Well they are but they still hurt and often take the blame for the break up upon themselves. I would have been crushed if he hadn't come home.

      Delete
  5. I may dig it up from my blog archives for another day, but one Christmas I remember was when in a fit of enthusiasm for just having moved to town, we bought our tree from a stand in the village center. It wasn't until it was finally set up in the warm house that we realized every cat in town had peed on it.
    Your story was suspenseful for me: did you parents stay together?
    And Merry Christmas to you!

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    1. Marty,
      Sorry but I am still laughing. Phew. My parents stayed happily together for the 4 years till my Mom passed.
      Have a great one Marty.

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  6. EVERY Christmas is the best. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you!!

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    1. Fran,
      As they should be. Have a wonderful holidays and a tub free 2019:))

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  7. I found that a very moving post.

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  8. Sweet Patti I really enjoyed reading about your best Christmases. There is no outstanding Christmas for me to share. I can only remember 2 as I was growing up and nothing special about them. As an adult though we did have really enjoyable and fun Christmases when we had all the foster children and our children at home. Merry Christmas sweet Patti. Hugs

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    1. Maggie,
      With the full house you had, it must have been wonderful to have given hope, love and happiness to so many.
      Have a wonderful Christmas.

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  9. Replies
    1. Joeh,
      Thank you so much. Hope you have just a special day.

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  10. What stands out for me is the last Christmas Eve before Mum left us and went to live elsewhere. We kids were playing in our bedroom and I heard the sounds of a "ma-ma" doll, looked out the door and Mum was "walking" one of those walkie-talkie dolls towards the bedroom. It was my Christmas gift along with a toy pram to wheel her around in. I pretended to be happy wheeling that doll around the block as my siblings rode their three wheeler bikes all summer, but I'd never been a doll person and ached for a bike. I did eventually get share rides on their bikes and was okay with that.

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    Replies
    1. River,
      She probably thought she had hit the nail on the head but really missed. So glad your siblings let you ride their bikes.

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  11. Replies
    1. Carolyn,
      Thank you so much and right back at ya.

      Delete
  12. Merry Christmas! Very memorable Christmases! One person’s actions can make a difference.

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    Replies
    1. Joared,
      Thank you. Sometimes we never know we made a difference till years later.

      Delete
  13. How amazing that your letter was the thing to keep the family together. I have had 85 Christmases so far and they all have been memorable in one way or another. As I look back I see that even the sad ones were OK and meant to be.

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    1. Ginnie,
      Yes. Sometimes we remember the sad ones better but they all had a purpose.

      Delete
  14. What a wonderful story. You have so many good stories, and you are a great storyteller.

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    1. Linda R,
      Thank you so much for the wonderful comment. You made my day.

      Delete
  15. Dear Patti, like you, the Christmas that stands out for me was one that occurred when there was little money for gifts. Mom told my brother and me that we could each have one gift under the tree and we could choose what we wanted. I wanted a piece of jewelry--a medallion like all my friends had--medallions were the rage that year!

    My brother wanted traps so that he could trap rabbits for us to eat that winter. (There really was little money as Dad was off work with no job in sight.)
    Both my brother and I were amazed and delighted when we found two gifts each under the tree. Like you, I cannot remember what my brother's second gift was, but I got a slip--a grown-up slip. It wasn't cotton with wide shoulder strips. It was a shiny material--like silk I thought--and I felt so grown-up. (This was when I was in the fifth grade and my brother was in the third grade. He was a fine trapper even then and kept us supplied all winter and spring with rabbit meat.) I've never forget the look on my mom's face as she watched us open our second gift. It was a look of pure love. Peace.

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    1. Dee,
      You had a very special Mom to go the extra mile for you and your brother. Some parents will do what they have to for their children.

      Delete
  16. Errol's last Christmas. His brother had just lost his wife and was very depressed. Errol went to get him and brought him out here. He helped his brother clean up, gave him new clothes, cut his hair, and then a fabulous gumbo for Christmas. Errol was ill himself, but wanted to do this for his brother. Watching that kind of love and effort was a very spiritual experience for me.

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    1. Inger,
      WOW, what a sweet caring man Errol was. It is one thing to go the extra mile but when you are not well yourself, that is special.
      Grief is such a demon and Errol knew to do just what was needed.
      I hope his brother is doing much better.

      Delete
  17. Wow, I don't know how I missed reading this until today but I'm glad I finally found it. What a wonderful, touching story that covers all the emotions.

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  18. What a precious memory. This met the heart completely.

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    1. Susan,
      It certainly has stayed with me for many years. So glad you enjoyed.

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  19. This year's holiday celebration was perfect.

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  20. And, I wish you a happy new year too.

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