My parents married in 1959. My grandfather died in 1960, leaving three small children at home. My parents would go get the kids as much as possible and of course, they loved coming to the newly married couple’s house with the new baby over staying at home with the young widow.
So our Christmas Eve tradition was born. All mom’s brothers and sisters would come to our house on Christmas Eve afternoon. The women would cook a feast, and we’d eat and open presents and me and my cousins would play baseball in the back yard, until one of us would swear we’d heard Santa. In our excitement, we’d forget that hearing Santa meant bedtime. 😉
Then mom would put out pallets in the bedrooms and we’d all pile in together, boys in one room, girls in another, while the adults stayed up and had eggnog and talked. At some point during the night the parents would slip in and take their kids home, and later, Santa would bring my gifts.
The next morning, I would awaken and take all my presents and my brother’s presents to his bedroom. There in his bed, mom and I would open his presents for him. They were usually noise makers, since he was blind. Then I would open each of my gifts and tell him about them in detail. While mom cooked breakfast, my brother and I would play together in his bed.
Around lunchtime, we would go to my father’s parents, who were basically our next door neighbors. They lived a quarter mile away, but this was the boonies and that was a close neighbor. We’d eat lunch at their house and then go home to play with Santa stuff.
I lived a charmed childhood. My mother’s mother, my Granny Morgan, stayed at our house a lot growing up. She didn’t live with us, but she came over often. My father’s parents, my Granny and Grandpa Ghee lived next door. I was 12 when my grandmothers died, and it was a huge void in my life. I was 16 when we lost Pa. Being able to see your grandparents every day, you think you know them, but once they are gone, you find you can’t remember what their voice sounded like, or what was their favorite food. The grandparents I remember who basically catered to my every want, don’t resemble anything close to the parents my parents describe from their childhood. I can never imagine the grandmother who would make me potato cakes and let me eat them straight out of the pan ever spanked her children for making messes. I can never imagine the grandfather who let me bid on a chicken’s nest in an auction (minus chicken) was ever tight with money for his own kids. I paid $2 (1976 dollars) for it.
This year, we continue part of the tradition. Mom came yesterday. She’ll go home Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning. My kids are the only grandchildren she has, so they have her totally to themselves. She and #3 are playing a computer game. The woman my kids know is NOT the woman who raised me and my cousins. Time has mellowed her.
I miss all my cousins on Christmas Eve more than any other time of the year. Now we are all married with kids of our own. We live all over the United States and only see each other a few times a year. We’re still close and love each other terribly, but life moved on and so did we.
So to all my cousins, I think I hear Santa, but don’t tell mom, it’s too early for bedtime. It’s too wet here today to play baseball, so we’ll have to make do with computer games. Hope you have a Merry Christmas, I love you.