In a one-horse open sleigh;
O’er the fields we go,
Laughing all the way!
Christmas! I think of snow, and horse-drawn hayrides, and caroling and spicy kitchen smells of cinnamon and gingerbread. I think of shining lights and old, whimsical ornaments to hang on the tree. Christmas music fills the house and apple cider is warming on the stove.
The truth is, Christmas here in the South is far away from these images! Oh, the kitchen smells can be duplicated easily enough. But snow is not likely until January or February and you don’t find many horse-drawn sleighs around here. Now, I do remember one Christmas where one of the farm trucks was loaded with hay bales and we rode through the woods on the back of the truck singing carols. And there were lots of Christmases where our church youth groups would gather and go around to the houses of those we knew were elderly or sick and would sing for them. Even now, I encourage my daughters to gather their friends and come with me to sing to the neighbors. I would go by myself, but a lone caroler isn’t much to hear.
On past Christmases, we spent way too much money and thought on Christmas presents. I remember so many times saying, “We are cutting back on what we spend this year, girls…” only to find a way too full tree on Christmas morning. This year will be different in that respect. I have no budget for Christmas presents this year and I have been preparing my girls for this since September. I don’t know if they are really feeling okay about this, or if they just don’t believe me yet. But I really don’t.
The professors for whom I work always give me money for Christmas. I believe that I will have enough to take the girls and buy them new glasses or contacts. That will be their “big” Christmas present this year. I am going to the Dollar Store and buy some shower gel and “smelly” stuff that they like so well. Probably some hair ribbons and such to stuff in their stockings. And I will splurge and buy them one pair of new jeans and one new sweater – IF there is anything left over from my Christmas “gifts” from work.
But it really won’t matter because I have the same two weeks off from the university that they have off of school. We will have the one thing that no amount of money can buy – time! We will play cards, watch movies on television, play games, bake cookies, and laugh. We will talk about boys, and school, and colleges. We will remember times long gone by and we will talk about future dreams. We will share a few tears and a lot of laughter and much joy in the fact that we are family. I will be happy – and I hope that they will, too.
We will pick a night during the week before Christmas and invite over their friends. We will go around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols until our noses, fingers, and toes are frozen. Then we will troop back home and warm up with hot chocolate, warm cider, and fresh-baked cookies. It will be simple, old-fashioned, and to some of them corny, but we will have fun. One of the things I have found about my daughters’ friends is that while they will readily say that I am “different” from most moms they know, they really like those differences. Frankly, so do I.
On Christmas Eve, my daughters and I will share our favorite Christmas memories with each other. We will each share what Christmas means to us – from eternal love, to the birth of Christ, to the origin of Yule. We will curl up on the couch and read our favorite Christmas stories to each other. We will pile up in one bed and watch a Christmas story on TV – perhaps Miracle on 34th Street or It’s A Wonderful Life. We may all fall asleep and not wake up until morning, or we may all wander off to our own beds in our own time.
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