Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Memories 2

I remember going to midnight Mass and just loving the Baby Jesus in His manger and all the pomp and pageantry surrounding His birth. I loved smelling the incense too. I never understood much of the Latin, but when I fell away they up and changed everything and the last time I went to Mass I felt as alien as the last time I went to a non-Catholic service. I missed the old ways that I’d grown up with. So now my church is with me, it goes where I go, and that way God knows how to find both of us.

I remember my Daddy’s mom always got whiskey for Christmas from at least 2 of her 4 sons. I remember thinking that odd because I never saw her drink anything stronger than iced tea. I overheard her saying though that she drank 3 fingers worth every evening before bedtime. She lived to be 83 so I guess she was doing something good for her heart. There’s a LOT of heart disease in her side of the family.

My favorite grandparent was Josh. He was my Mom’s father and he wouldn’t allow us to call him “Grandfather” or anything else like that. He’d give me the change out of his pocket when he came home and say “Call me ‘Josh’” …… I loved getting his change and I’d of called him Mickey Mouse if that’s what it took to get rich! He always had a Fox Terrier dog that he named “Shorty”. Over the years there must have been a half dozen “Shorties”. The one I remember the most was a vicious little beast when he wanted to be. I was leaning over the bed talking to him (he was ON the bed) one evening and without warning he leaped up and bit me on the face. It stung and made me tear up, but didn’t do any lasting damage. I was hurt emotionally though because I thought the dog liked me. It was years later that I figured out he probably didn’t like me talking into his face and the air currents that produced. Or he could have just been a moody vicious little beast!

None of us ever knew our Daddy’s daddy because he died when my Daddy was just a boy. I always thought that was so sad because everyone should have a daddy. How does a boy learn to be a man without a man’s examples to follow? My Daddy didn’t play any sports that I can recall. He never threw a baseball to me, but he loved baseball better than any other sport. He kept statistics on the games. His mind must have been like a computer long before there were computers. When the Astrodome was built in Houston the slogan was “Make Your Home In The Dome” ….. Daddy took that to heart and did his best to live there until the day he died.

Back in Longview we had real Christmas trees because there just weren’t any artificial ones. I remember one year when we were startled awake to a loud crash and upon investigation discovered the tree had committed suicide. I was horrified and terribly worried that Christmas would be called on account of this unnatural disaster. As it turned out all it needed was up righting and adjusting and the broken ornaments replaced and Christmas was back on. Santa didn’t even know about it as far as I could tell.

Once we moved to Houston in 1960 Daddy went out and bought our first artificial tree. I’m not sure if the first one was the aluminum one or not, but that shiny silver tree was the one I remember above all others. This is what I found that explains the tree to perfection:

The mid-1960's saw another change. A new world was on the horizon, and modernist ideas were everywhere. Silver aluminium trees were imported from America. The 'Silver Pine' tree, patented in the 1950's, was designed to have a revolving light source under it, with coloured gelatine 'windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree.

I loved it when the tree turned blue, but all the colors were fun to watch. It was better than TV! I’d sit on the couch or lie on the floor and watch the colors changing for hours on end.

Once I got married we went back to real trees until my kid’s allergies made that difficult. The first Christmas in our ‘new’ rent home I sent my husband off with a friend to buy and bring home a tree. We’d discussed the need for a smaller tree as we didn’t have many decorations and the room wasn’t all that large. I felt confident that John would follow the plan since his friend’s vehicle was a Volkswagen bug and he was to bring the tree home atop the bug’s roof. When they rounded the corner after the quest for the perfect tree you almost couldn’t see the car for the tree! He ended up having to chop off more of the trunk just to make it fit our 8’ ceiling! He was so proud of that HUGE tree! It was a nice tree too. Our baby and soon all of us were coughing and sneezing and wheezing, but it was quite the largest Christmas tree we ever had. After that year I went with him to pick out the tree!

Here’s picture of Josh and a Shorty that got a hearing aid in 1969.

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