Christmas on Westwood Lane
I went over to Mom’s today to set up her Christmas tree and get her many decorations down for her. She was so excited, and started singing Christmas carols (By the way, the quintessential Dorothy Christmas song is:
“Christmas time, Merry time!
All the world’s a’hummin’.
All you see are full of gleeeee (hold out a long time for dramatic effect)
Cuz Santa Claus is comin” WHEE (as high as you can sing it)”
You have to be ready to break into this song at any time during the month of December.)
It made me happy to see her so excited about her favorite holiday, especially after her bad fall. It also got me reminiscing about other Christmases, long ago.
Money was incredibly tight or non-existent when I was growing up. My parents had divorced, and my dad, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, lived a very comfortable life with his new wife, but those of us left at home with Mom had a lot of challenges. Mom raised me (and my brother until he moved out of the house) on $350 a month. Period. There were no frills.
Food was tight, especially at the end of the month, and we had potatoes every which way you can imagine, and some ways that you couldn’t. Often the gas tank that heated the house would run out in winter, and there was no money to get more. I remember many nights when am could see my breath in my bedroom, and burrowing under a pile of quilts. I wore second-hand clothes, and my first clarinet and my first car were gotten by Mom trading things for them. However, I have no regrets- I had a wonderful childhood, filled with love. I am glad that I wasn’t handed everything on a silver platter…things will really mean something to me, because I know what it’s like not to have them.
No matter the money situation, my mother always, and I mean always, made Christmas magical. I look back now and I can’t imagine how she managed it on no money. I believed in Santa until way after I should have. That’s how good she was.
The house was decorated to the hilt. There was a plate of cookies for Santa, and a cookie was always left with a bite taken out of it (Dorothy is good). I would stay up as long as possible, and then there was the inevitable from Mom, “If you don’t clean your room and go to bed, Santa will never come!” Yeah, Mom, what a racket!
I thought I could never fall asleep, but inevitably I did. Our agreement was that I could get up as early as I wanted as long as I put Mom’s coffee on before I got up her up. I will never forget waking up, jumping out of bed, and opening my bedroom door. There was a magical Christmas world awaiting me. Mom (cough cough, I mean Santa) had created a Christmas wonderland. My stocking would be stuffed with candy (and the requisite orange, walnut, and apple), and there was always a collection of really cool, interesting gifts. Somehow, Dorothy always made Christmas magical. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would want to give them the same experiences. Everything was perfect. I knew Santa Claus had been there- I had no doubt.
I am in awe of this woman, and the efforts she took to give me these magical holidays. My husband and I try to bring the same excitement into our Christmas celebration in our home.
My mom is frail. I hope that I will have her with me for several more years, but I don’t know if I will. I can only enjoy the memories that I have and work to gather a few more while she is still with me.