Christmas Memories, Revisited

December 26 – Five years ago I posted the following on our blog – but I figure it’s worth a repost at this Christmas season!

When I was a kid, about six or so, Mom made me a Santa, chunky and overweight as all Santas are. This one, made of felt, had a round head with the typical hat and shaggy white beard made from cotton batting. The body was all in one piece with dark embroidered lines to set off the arms, legs, and boots. Since we had very, very few toys, none from the store, I really thought I was lucky to have that Santa.

Much later, I went off to Africa and returned to live not too far from Mom and Dad. One day, around Christmas time, I told Mom how I had never forgotten that Santa she had made for me, and I wished I had it back again for old times sake.

Well, Mom didn’t say anything about old Santa, but at Christmas that year she gave me a box to open. Inside was another homemade Santa, as much like the first one as she could remember. But it was NOT much like it at all! No embroidery, no old-fashioned whiskers or a bag hung over his shoulder. It wasn’t made out of felt, either. Every Christmas after for 10 years or so, she made another Santa for me, trying to capture the old memories. I still have most of them (the Santas, not the memories) in a box up in the attic.

And a second part of that memory… When David and Biz were about 5 and 3 years old, I wanted to get them something a little special for Christmas. But where would I get the money? We just didn’t have it. So I decided to borrow a few dollars from Mom. She gave me all she could scrape together, just fourteen dollars. But that was a bit of a fortune to me in those long-ago days.

As I have mentioned before, we didn’t own a car, so I walked the couple miles from our house to the plaza while Dale entertained the kids at home. As I strolled through the store I kept in mind how much I could spend on Dale and each of the kids. Finally, after looking for a long time, I went up to the counter with several items. When the clerk behind the cash register came up with the total, a few cents short of the $14, I looked all over for the bills. I remembered I had clutched them in my hand as I looked for items to buy. But obviously, I had laid them down on a counter when I was checking out the merchandise. How could I have been so careless? Almost tearfully, I told the clerk what had happened. Very tersely she said, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to put the things back on the shelves!”

Sadly and slowly I walked back home. Not only had I lost the money, and bought nothing, but I owed $14 to Mom! After Christmas, when Dale was paid, I managed to somehow scrape together some of the money to give to Mom. When I explained the situation, she grabbed me, held on tightly, and with tears said, “No, you’re not paying anything back. No two dollars, or four, or fourteen! You’ve suffered enough already.”

Aren’t parents wonderful? – CHRIS

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