A little video of my amazing first Christmas in North Carolina, surrounded by family and friends … Gods in His Heaven, all’s right with the world.
I guess I was five or six. Mona, a distant cousin was living with us for a while, and being a bit older than me (8 or 9 I think), she was who I depended on when life tossed an unexpected conundrum. A week before Christmas was no exception.
In the hallway next to our bedroom that we shared, was the pull down stairway to the attic. A couple of times, Mona and I came home from school and discovered the attic stairs down, Mom standing at the foot of them and Daddy at the top saying, “Is that it? I think I heard the bus.” Then Daddy would hop quickly down, and together they would snap the attic stair up closed then turn to innocently face us.
Mona was the one to always ask, “Whatcha’ doing up there?”
I figured we must have had more mice in that attic than the Pied Piper of Hameln, because Daddy would always reply, “Just checking to see that we don’t have mice,” and Mom would half-hardheartedly nod her head in agreement.
It was a week before Christmas.
What happened that night was either a Christmas miracle or a Christmas disaster depending on which room you were sleeping in. Mona and I suddenly awoke to a crash and a virtual downpour of Barbies and accessories, skates, puzzles, suitcases, t-sets, clothes, shoes, and dozens and dozens of other things like candy and yo-yo’s, falling through the ceiling. We sat there blinking like two hungry lions.
“What do you think it is?” I whispered to Mona.
“I think Santa Clause just came,” Mona said not taking her eyes of the skates, “And the skates are mine.”
“But Christmas isn’t till a week,” I added, “Will he come again?”
Mona gave me a look as she began hatching the scheme right then and there. “Go down the hall and tell Mom and Dad that you fell out of the bed in case they heard any thing.”
I walked in their room and found them both in a dead sleep, so I went back to our room and Mona quietly closed the door behind me. “They down?” she asked, as if I’d gone in and shot them both with a dart gun.
I nodded while I watched Mona shove “her stuff” under her bed and slide my stuff over to mine. “Stick this under your bed. We’ll put the bigger stuff in the back of the closet.” So in the middle of the night that’s what we did, and between moments of hiding the haul that, moments ago, was somehow sitting in the attic, we took a moment to play with the loot.
Once we were finished, we crawled back in bed and for the first time that night we realized we had a bigger problem we hadn’t thought about. A gigantic hole in the ceiling was right above the foot of our beds. Sheetrock hung from the ceiling in jagged pieces and upon closer investigation, Mona reported she could see a blue bicycle! Now how were we going to hid that hole?
It was Mona who came to their senses first. “I think we made a mistake. We need to put everything back in the pile and pretend we didn’t see it.” I asked if maybe we could just keep one thing, but Mona refused.
So, we pulled everything out from under the bed and closet, piled it in a pile and took the trashcan filled with little pieces of Sheetrock and insulation and dumped it on the pile. I may not remember a lot about Mona, but I do remember how she kept her cool that night through it all.
As I lay there in bed after, what she and I referred to as “The Big Christmas Crash”, I couldn’t believe that the wisest, craftiest person in the world was sleeping next to me. And while she wouldn’t let me play with even ONE toy that night, I found a new respect for her.
The next day we “let” my Dad discover what happened in our room while we were at school. All the stuff went back up in the attic and he and Mr. Marlow were repairing the ceiling when we got home from school that day. And yes, we put on our game faces and asked what on earth had happened.
Daddy blamed it on the mice.
I don’t suppose I ever told my parents about the fiasco that took place that night … about how Mona took charge of the situation like a boss and how our feigned surprise Christmas morning was a result of many hours of Mona and I rehearsing our reaction in the basement.
Or … how it all somehow led to my deep fear of mice. Wonder how Mona’s doing?
So I just realized while I was putting this blog together how “ungirly” of a little girl I was. My most memorable Christmas gifts, except for maybe one of them, are not the average “little girl gifts”! Maybe it’s because as a child I was mostly surrounded by boys … rough neck, frog-in-the-pocket boys, who were pretty much my only choice of play-mates in the neighborhood!
I had a few girly friends, but I’d much rather be playing in the ditches and building forts in the woods with the boys instead of sitting in the front yard brushing the hair of some bug-eyed baby doll. There were, I mean, only so many sub-plots you could play before the “Mommy and Daddy” game, got utterly boring. Kimberly whatever-her-last-name-was, took her Baby Alive and went home when I suggested we see who could throw our dolls further up on the roof of the house.
I never saw Kimberly again and that stupid Baby Alive was still on the roof when we moved away.
Never in a hundred years would I have suggested throwing my all time favorite Christmas gift EVER on the roof …
#1 GREEN TONKA TOY TRUCK WITH WHITE WALL TIRES
I got this for my fifth Christmas and I remember circling it in the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Catalog like it happened yesterday! I’ve no idea where I originally saw it … if it was on TV or if someone in the neighborhood had one, but I made SURE Mom and Dad knew I wanted it. Don’t ask me what else I got that Christmas because I can’t remember a single other thing … but that Tonka truck … I LOVED that toy! And yes, I slept with it! It went everywhere with me and even as a teenager, it sat on my dresser and held lip-gloss and necklaces. Today it’s wrapped in newspapers and in my basement. Not even my son was allowed to play with it. Once I’m in Waynesville I want to have a special place for it so I can show it off! To this day, that Tonka Truck is one of my most prized possessions.
#2 THE EASY BAKE OVEN
So most little girls played with their Easy Bake ovens until either their cake mixes ran out or the bulbs burned out. Not me. I loved mine so much that my Mom would mix up little sandwich bags of cake mixes for me to bake! But that isn’t all! I remember taking left-over pre-cooked spaghetti, some sauce and cheese and baking tiny casseroles! I made tiny little biscuits … tiny cookies … and my favorite – a hot open faced Oreo with a tiny scoop of ice cream. I was wildly inventive and my Dad, ever the guinea pig of the Easy Bake Chef, always smacked his lips and would say “delicious” … even though it probably wasn’t so great. After all, there’s only so much you can to do to food with two 100 watt light bulbs.
#3 THE TWISTER GAME
As an only child, this game was incredibly boring for me until my Dad figured out that the three of us (me, Mom and Daddy) could play together if one of us held the spinner in our mouth and we all took turns spinning. It was actually more fun doing it that way than having someone sit on the side calling out the moves, because it always required someone to spin the spinner with whatever appendage was available and the spinner was passed along to the next person …. teeth to teeth. Yeah yeah … germs were shared, but the laughter was ferocious and some of the best times with my Mom and Dad was spent watching my Dad lift his toe up to my Moms face and them working together to try and spin the spinner!
#4 MY SPIROGRAPH and GREEN PEN
Of all my toys, this one both fascinate and frustrated me the most. Actually, my Dad enjoyed this toy more than I did, but we would have “doodling” contests to see who could “doodle” the longest before our wheel jumped the track. I think every Spirographer ran out of green ink first because it was such an unusual pen color at the time and boy did I covet my green pen!
But alas, I got caught by Mrs Wall “doodling” in class with my green Spirograph pen and a couple of gears and wheels, and my green pen was confiscated. Spirographing was never the same after that.
#5 MY LIONEL TRAIN SET ♥ …. AND THE YEAR SANTA WAS ‘OUTED’
If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never EVER forget the year I got my Lionel Train set, because that was the year I found out the truth about Santa.
It was 1967 and we lived on East Court Street in Hinesville, Georgia in an Antebellum home with beautiful beveled glass doors between the hallway and living room. My Aunt Lila and Grandma Hamilton were spending Christmas with us that year They were sleeping in my room and I was sleeping on the roll-away bed in Mom and Daddys room. We had all had a traditional cup of hot cocoa before bed Christmas Eve, but since Aunt Lila was there, she made mine “special” and put a peppermint stick in it (and more than likely a hefty dose of Peppermint Schnapps as well so I would fall asleep quickly).
I’ve no idea what time it was when I woke up and heard muffled talking in the living room. I timidly crept down the hall to the closed glass doors of the living room, where I saw Dad and Aunt Lila on the floor playing with a train set and Mom putting a T-Set out.
My cousin, Mike, was right. My parents WERE Santa.
I was mortified! So I did what any kid in their right mind would do …. I kept my mouth shut and crept back to bed just in case they took it all back once they knew “I KNEW”.
Christmas morning when they came in and “woke me up” … yeah, right … I’d lay there all night wondering what else was fake … would my ears really fall off if I didn’t wash behind them? … would my nose REALLY grow if I told a lie? …. were there REALLY Mommy spies everywhere I went who would tell her everything I did when she wasn’t around? These were things I was doubting now. And the Tooth Fairy … and Easter Bunny … and the “President of the United States” …. was HE even real?
Anyway, I played it cool, and my Daddy and I ended up playing with that train set all day. Aunt Lila crocheted an afghan, Grandma snoozed in the easy chair, and Mom folded up all the used wrapping paper into neat smooth squares. As for me, I just suspiciously watched them all for the first time in my life.