Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chapter 16: It's the most wonderful time...

Growing up, we never had stockings over the fire. It wasn't until about 3 or 4 years ago that my mom spent the money on getting all of us 9 kids, the dog and her and dad a stocking and putting our names on them. I always felt sad that we didn't have them. Not because I was into Santa Clause or anything, but because I thought it was part a Christmas tradition we were missing out on. Apparently, we are still missing out. People keep asking me what we do for Christmas. When my reply is "Well...we...put up a tree" they look at me funny. As if I'm lying or being secretive. No. Seriously. We put up a tree.
When my second brother got into KU, we stared to put lights on the house for the first time in our lives. We only did this though because he worked at HobbyLobby and got a good discount on the lights. So that was a good step. It was soon after that we got the stockings. But Christmas wasn't always bland. In fact, I liked it a lot as a kid. I just felt that something was missing.
But to us kids, Christmas was more than a tree and snow to play in. It was the time of year mom and dad fought and yelled, got angry at us and were just generally in a bad mood. Pretty much all through December and half of January. Holidays in our house always put us kids on edge because we knew it meant angry and unreasonable parents. I know that in part we were to blame. I mean really, kids get all excited and energetic this time of year. Even in our house where Christmas was not bedazzled with lights and sweetened with pounds of candy. But as the years have gone by, things have changed.
We have lights outside now, stockings, and a good pinch of decorations inside too. We also have a nice tree with ornaments and lights. But under that tree this year? We write our names on scraps of paper, draw a name and whoever we draw we buy presents for. Then mom and dad buy us each one or two presents. We're not TOO poor, but we're not like the other families in this new neighborhood. We can't afford 5 gifts for each person...The little kids are taking it the hardest. They want many presents. They'll learn some day. But in the mean time, they'll just struggle on.

Let me say one thing about the past 12 or 13 Christmases though. When we moved to Leavenworth, we started to cut down our own trees from the side of the road. That was the one great tradition we had. On a Sunday, when dad could help us, we would go out to the tree we had picked and cut it down. There were many adventures in that tradition over the years. The tree would be about 12 or 15 feet high and always touch our ceiling. Our trees, be them the only great tradition and memory I have, were awesome. Tall and smelly and wide. We loved out trees.

So now for a new Christmas in a new state and new life. God help us.

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