A Christmas Memory

Christmas time is a magical time, but in the 40’s and 50’s the Soyars household was extra magical because my Mom and dad made it that way. We’d venture out as a family about two weeks before Christmas to pick a full and sturdy tree, that evening we’d decorate it. Christmas songs played on the record player as we sang along and went about our assigned tasks. My older brother and my dad would string the lights as my sister and I unpacked the decorations with my Mom. Mom put decorations on the higher branches, and my sister and I took the lower portions. To me it was a competition with my sister to see who could put up the most, and that often got me in trouble. My Mom was quick to remind me that Santa was watching, so I’d better be good. That always worked, and I responded promptly. With the decorations finished, my dad and brother strung the garland, and my mother and sister began hanging the tinsel. I wasn’t allowed to help with that task because I didn’t have the patience to hang tinsel one piece at a time. It was a tedious chore, and I was content to play with my toys and watch them. I always looked forward to the finale when my sister and I got to unwrap the many pieces of the nativity figures. Mom would place the snow skirt around the base of the tree, and my sister and I would pass the figures to her for placement under the tree. When we were finished decorating, dad would plug in the lights and the tree took on that special magic of Christmas.

It seemed that almost every day a new present would magically appear under the tree; however, we weren’t allowed to touch them. That would have to wait until Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve we always had a big family dinner with ham, turkey and all the accompanying dishes. Mom made the most delicious deserts which usually included banana pudding, chocolate cake, and lemon meringue pie. My taste buds are remembering as I write. After dinner, we’d take a drive to see the Christmas lights throughout the city. I remember watching the sky for Santa and voicing my concern that if we didn’t hurry-up and get home, he would skip our house.

I remember that Christmas Eve in 1950 when I was five. I hadn’t been able to go to sleep. I kept thinking about Santa Claus and the toys that he’d bring. I’d doze a while and then wake up and run to Mom and Dad’s bedroom and announce, “I think Santa came.” Mom would tell me the time. I remembered her saying midnight, one and two, but I don’t remember how many times I actually went to their room. After doing this many times, my dad said, “Come here and get into bed between us, but no wiggling or talking.” I did and soon fell fast asleep, waking up only when my sister came in around seven to wake us up. That was a really long night, but a memorable Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you. May all your Christmas memories be joyous.

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