Anne Eller offers this week’s Advent reflections as she shares her memories of Christmas when she was a child and her hopes for Christmas at this stage in her life.
Santa Claus sometimes came to see us at my grandparents’ house; my Mom’s parents who lived at that time a six-hour drive away. Now, it only takes three and a half hours with the interstates and big highways, but that was before. We would get in the car after we got home from school and start our journey, stopping at a town about an hour away to eat pizzas and hamburgers. Then my sister and brothers and I got in the back of the station wagon, where Mom and Dad had put plastic mattresses, to play or read or sleep as Dad drove. That was before seat belts were required. We thought we would never get there, and repeatedly asked Dad how much longer it would take.
Going to my grandparents’ house was the grandest of adventures at Christmastime. We had a big gathering with all my aunts and uncles and numerous cousins. We ran with our cousins up and down the staircase, told secrets and, if it were Christmas Eve, listened to the transistor radio, which was dutifully tracking the whereabouts of Santa and his reindeer in the skies. We caused chaos until time for opening presents, while the adults told tales and smoked cigarettes as they prepared a feast. Ham and butter beans, collards and a million other southern comfort foods culminated with Granny’s chocolate and coconut cakes. My favorite was the yellow cake of multiple layers with homemade—not from a can—slightly grainy chocolate frosting. Dad’s favorite was the coconut. He waited until other people had gotten their pieces and scraped the bottom of the cake plate where the juiciest crumbs remained.
Then came the presents. One year my great aunt, who lived with my grandparents, gave my sister and me dresses for Barbie Dolls. We were a little dismayed, not having Barbie Dolls, until we opened the presents from Granny and Granddaddy. My Barbie had platinum hair bobbed and teased in a big pouf and I loved her! I still have that Barbie with her clothes in a Barbie Club case. From Santa, my favorite present as a young teenager was a beautiful long red bathrobe made of soft material with satin binding—it looked like Santa’s robe! I wore that bathrobe for years until the satin was ripped and faded and I reluctantly cut it into pieces to make dust rags. I still look for a bathrobe that compares, but of course nothing compares with my memory.
Ann’s memories will continue tomorrow…
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