Random Brain Dumping

Musings and observations about life

My favorite Christmases

Oh, so many Christmas memories, my favorites being three: two as a child and one as an adult.

In my life, I’ve seen two white Christmases, separated by four decades.

My first white Christmas was in North Carolina, where my family was visiting my maternal grandmother. Grandmother’s porch was the type that kids could play under, so when the snow hit, that made the porch a great jumping off point.

I recall jump after jump into the snow, but what made that Christmas a favorite is that Santa visited us at Grandmother’s house … and our house.

Yes, I was that young and still believed in Santa Claus. I have no idea what Santa brought me that year, but I do remember getting home and having presents there, too.

Bass violin

The bass was a piece of art in my living room until my youngest son got his own place.

How did Santa know to leave presents at both houses?

Fast forward six or seven years to the summer, where I asked for a watch for my birthday. I’ve never been one to ask for much, but that year, I asked for what I wanted.

I didn’t get a watch for my birthday. I got what was probably my first dose of disappointment. For months, I struggled to swallow that disappointment. How could I hold on to disappointment with the two people who made sure I (and my nine siblings) had things I needed?

I didn’t dare ask for anything for Christmas. I don’t even know if I participating in “calling” the various possibilities in the Sears and Roebuck catalog that came just before Christmas.

Usually, the kids would get the catalog and go through it; if one person called a toy, no one else could claim it. Lots of wishful thinking, as I don’t think we ever got anything from the catalog.

On Christmas morning, though, we would wake up early and rush to the tree to see who got what, even keeping count of who got how many.

This Christmas after my first disappointment, I only recall getting one gift. Knowing my mother, I probably got more, but one stood out.

A small box with a tortoise-shell watch with square frame and brown band.

Somewhere among the stuff I will never throw away is that watch, missing half the watch band and long-since inoperable.

Running a close third of childhood favorites came the day after Christmas, the year my father called from the hospital to say my mother had had a girl. Finally, a baby sister after three younger brothers.

Finally, I’ve had a tough time deciding which Christmas was the best, but my favorites as an adult all were about other people.

I recall scraping up $2,500 to give my youngest son a bass violin in his third year of playing, a gift he still has but later told me he had wanted an Atari that year.

Then, was the year I gave each of my siblings custom-made dog tags as key chains, with “Margaret and Bill’s Top 10” on the front, the sibling’s childhood nickname and birth order on the back.

And the calendar with three generations of pictures corresponding with birth months, and the birthdays written on the respective dates. Oddly, that 2007 calendar mirrored 2012, so we got to use it again.

My favorite Christmas of all, though, was the first time I picked a name from the holiday tree at work. The names were of children in a shelter, with their Christmas wishes written on the back.

I chose several children, not wanting to leave anyone out.

That year was the first time I actually saw someone’s Christmas list. It’s amazing the simple things on the list.

Basic things. Backpack. Underwear. A few toys.

That year, I realized I’ve lived a blessed life.

I’ve always believed that simple things can have major rewards. I know now the simple act of giving is far better than receiving.

December 24, 2012 - Posted by | Random Brain Dumping | , , , ,


  1. Thank you for sharing your Christmas reflections. The Sears Roebuck catalogue, whew, that’s a memory. I remember the last Christmas with my father, 2004. It was the last time Christmas really felt like Christmas. My cousin Rahsaan(Ray) passed this year, so, it’s really changed. I’ll always remember Dad and Ray having heated debates, and people just stopping by for the holidays.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    Comment by brett | December 30, 2012 | Reply

    • Brett, I’m sorry to hear about your cousin. I know you treasure the memories of the lively debates between your father and cousin. Happy new year to you and yours.

      Comment by Gwendolyn | December 30, 2012 | Reply

  2. Yes, we spent hours leafing through our Sears and Penney’s catalogues. Mom always told us we could probably get the same thing cheaper at a department store, but we always insisted she order it from the catalogue.

    Comment by Miles Lee Elder | December 30, 2012 | Reply

    • Wow. Your family actually ordered from the catalogs? I’m pretty sure we never actually got anything from the catalog. Still, it was nice to dream.

      Comment by Gwendolyn | December 30, 2012 | Reply

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