Monday, December 22, 2014

Oh, Santa.

Santa and Satan
The year 1959 was a year of change for my family.  We moved onto a farm where we would live until 1995.  So many adventures and so many memories arise from that time.

But, here is one memory that we were fortunate to miss.  At least until I was grown with grown children. I never knew that side of Santa Claus’ life, which apparently originated from Mexico. “Santa Claus”, produced in 1959, was translated into English.  Apparently, it received the “Golden Gate” award for family films. This is not necessarily a good thing. 

The movie is thoroughly ridiculous, Santa Claus is totally creepy, and the three actors who commentate as the film progresses are brilliant.  You may watch the film in its entirety on YouTube.  Fast-forward may be essential here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Is it time yet?

Is it time yet?  Sis, is it time yet?” My brother Robert whispered in the dark.

Opening heavy eyes and peering at the glow-in-the-dark Big Ben alarm clock, I muttered, “No!  It is not time!”  Then my eyes closed and I went back to sleep.

Vintage Christmas Tree...I love the little girl's head popping around the corner.
Source: pinterest
“Is it time yet?  Sis, is it time?”

NO!  You asked me that an hour ago!”  As I wondered off to sleep, crunching of Doritos and Cheetos purchased to keep my brothers awake echoed into my room, along with the scents.

Time yet?...NO!  Leave me alone!...Time yet?...NO!...Time yet?...NO!  NO!  NO!...

At 5 a.m., Bill sneaked down old squeaky stairs.  “Mom?  Mom?  Can we get up yet?”  There were mumbles as Bill hollered up the stairs.  “It’s time!  Robert!  It’s time!”

Robert’s feet hit the floor with a resounding thud and he raced down steps. Reluctantly I dragged myself and pulled on a robe.  Our parents were groaning as Mom poured cups of strong coffee.

Christmas lights had been switched on and the two began ravaging their presents.  Rubbing my eyes, I blinked at Robert’s joy as his presents appeared.

Although Robert was  almost nineteen years old that Christmas, I was 18, and Bill was fourteen, thrills of Christmas never ever know age boundaries.

P.S.  Both Robert and Bill are gone now, but our family can never forget their joy at Christmas.
Christmas is a cause for celebration.  I am a Christian who accepted Christ and the forgiveness He gives.  Joy to the world!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coin Jar Christmas

Jimmy Carter’s pre-election autobiography.
Why not...
When Jimmy Carter became president in 1976, many events and hardships followed.  The list is long, infuriating, and filled with needs that stuck us hard in many ways, mostly our pockets.

In those years of his presidency, inflation rose, interest rates soared, and our family needs increased.  Our baby Mary was born on New Year’s Eve in 1980, just when we felt our bank account echoed like an empty canyon. 

John worked at a property management company, collecting rents, evicting, arranging for repairs.  With the rough economy, apartments stood empty and renters did not pay.

Our income shrank. Details aren't important, but December was.  We could stretch our money only so far, and Christmas was beyond our stretching reach. Facing each other the day after Thanksgiving as we decorated our Kmart artificial tree, the question hung in the air silently.  What are we going to do?

Erin was five, Johnny was three, and Mary was one—the older two danced around the lighted tree, laughing as we were almost crying.  What are we going to do?

A coin jar was on a dresser, where we had emptied pockets of coins from pockets over the past two years.  Maybe?  In a quiet house, John dumped coins onto the kitchen table and we began counting.  Stacks of quarters were few, followed by more stacks of dimes and nickels, but the pennies were a sea across the table.
heplful jars of coins
Fifty two dollars and some cents.  That was all we had. Every penny.  We leaned back in our chairs and considered what we could  do.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Night

Biggest Full Moon of the Year: Take 2
On a December night,
Does and fawns tread light
Over newly fallen snow,
Under full moon glow.

No twinkling lights abound
On country roads, no sounds
Through bare trees.
Where silence quietly creeps.

Sheltered within a warm home
Beneath starry night dome,
Children settle and sigh
Under a dreaming December sky.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fear not!

IMG_0555 - Copy - Copy
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
December marked frantic use of scissors, glitter, and paper in schools every where. Teachers reluctantly set out the peppermint paste, letting chaos take its course. 

Influenza and Christmas frenzy drove the pace.

Each classroom reflected garish joy and vacant student desks as days counted down to one big event: Annual Christmas Pageant.  If ever there were a bigger event, the community did not know it.

The District Music teacher, Mrs. Harris, traveled to every school before settling on this one school to perform that year's pageant.

Mrs. Harris was relentless in her expectations and doling out various roles as fear hung in the air while performers marched to her music. Seventh and eighth graders became The Holy Family with younger students filling out as angels, elves, and sugar canes.

Influenza began wiping out the Holy Family and shepherds.  But Mrs. Harris did not break step or sweat; Mrs. Harris drafted the best of the next grade down.

In sixth grade, all girls were hoping,  Please oh please let me be Mary! Their hearts, minds and eyes pleaded.

Briefly, Mrs. Harris laid eagle eyes on a few, but moved on.  Those girls would remain angels that year.  The pageant took place with Holy Family intact while Angels waited in the wings, scratching silver garland halos. 

Day after Pageant Glory, angels' desks were vacant,  each absentee sick with influenza. A few elves were out as well.

Please note that this memory comes from a then 10 year brain.  I discovered that "Mrs. Harris" was kind and a very good teacher.  She taught us all how to read music, and as a result I learned to play the piano, due to her strong teaching.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fire in the Snow

Snow happens.
When cold blows in from Canada, pushed up by warm wind from Texas, snow happens suddenly and furiously.  Only older siblings, big enough to sink only to the knee and then leap into the snow face first, could rejoice.

For two small children, enjoyment was peering out through icy panes and wishing.  Mom…Mom…Mom…Can we go outside, too?  Mom? Mom?  Mom relented only when Mom became unbearable.

Two and four years old, Mary and Bill were wrapped, bundled, booted, and mittened, then given instructions:  Stay on the porch.  Both nodded solemnly.

Mom stood at the kitchen door, staring through the lacy ice crystals at five children enjoying the snow.  Then Bill launched off the porch into deep white sea. Bill, she sighed. 

Stomping out the door, Mom grabbed him by scruff of his coat and pulled him up.  Then Mary whispered, “Mommy!  Mommy!  Look!  Fire in trees!  Fire in snow!”

Fire in the trees?  In the snow?  She beheld glorious cardinals perched in bare trees.  Fiery cardinals with black masks.  Brave cardinals in frigid air.

Mom hollered, “You kids get in here.  Been out long enough!”  But she continued to watch until fire became scarlet birds winging over snowy horizons.  

Fire in the Trees

For those bloggers in the beginning of a long winter, this story is about the snow of 1958, which has been called the mini-ice age.  Keep warm, enjoy the beauty as much as you are able, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cedar Tree, oh Cedar Tree

Oh, our cedar tree

Christmastree..Christmastree….when will we cut down our Christmas tree?  That question hung in the air until Mom nudged Dad enough to take care of that yearly tradition.

Finally, we climbed up into the bed of the 1946 Ford truck and huddled together in frozen air on frozen metal, and smiled at the very thought of the tree.  THE Tree that would be ours, stood on a white hill watching and waiting for us.  Our Tree we exhaled through icy fogged air.

Powdery, fresh snow stays in my mind even now: stepping and then sinking up to our knees, laughing.  Eagerness kept us warm as we raced ahead of Dad, who strode easily with the ax on his shoulder.  This one?...How about this one?...No!  Look, there is one!

Somehow the perfect tree was always found and Dad cut it down.  Hoisting it up on his shoulder, we carried the starry top, never knowing just how heavy the tree truly was.

Scent of cedar filled the bed of the truck where the tree barely fit, with us tucked around and through it.  We inhaled it cedar air down to our home, laughing all the way.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Magic of the Gifts

Ben Franklin (Store #4545) - original design on Main Street
A great store then and now.
Two days before Christmas we shivered in front of Ben Franklin’s Five and Dime.  Dad gave us each a five-dollar bill!  Five dollars!  That meant $25 in 1960, a tremendous amount for him to dole out; $25 could buy six bags of feed for the hogs.

Memory says that the store was packed with people, but with today’s eyes I realize that perhaps twenty people roamed the aisles, five of which were us.  We scattered, trying to be secretive about our purchases, which was difficult.  Mom roamed a bit herself, listening for arguments and eyeing possible gifts for family.  Mom also guided three-year old Mary along and chased after five-year old Bill, helping them make choices. 

With five dollars clutched in my red, chapped and cold hands, I was blinded by all the choices.  Surely, this was more than I could ever imagine spending.  But, almost every last penny was spent, leaving a few coins with which to buy a Hershey bar.

Riding home in a crowded Ford, we glanced at each other and giggled.  In the trunk of the car, five secret-holding paper bags held the magic of the gifts we each would give.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Riding Rough

Riding a rough horse—
Cannot be reined in.
Jumps the fences,
Lands hard on stony ground.

Shoots along flat faceless land,
Ducks under spiny trees,
Sweeps through sage brush.

Won’t let rider dismount, no, no,
Wind chapped, finally brakes cold,
Shakes head, nickers, and tosses mane,

When the rider. 

What do you think this poem is truly saying?

Monday, December 1, 2014

It'is shopping time!!

Sometimes, trying to choose just the right gift for someone.  WELL, I have found the perfect one-size-fits-all gift.  Here it is:

and, maybe this, as well:

Happy shopping.