When I’m sick, I get a lot of reading done between naps. I was catching up with you guys when I read “Frugal Decorating At Our Little Red House”.
As you know, I don’t prefer a tree but Clay does and I admit two things…. he did a great job of not uglying up my house with it, in fact, it’s beautiful and I have warm memories of my childhood traditionally celebrated christmases.
Reading the afore mentioned blog, brought back those memories and a renewed appreciation of my mother. She was a miracle worker, creating magic out of nothing at all. I’d describe those years as lean but that would be generous. Those years were our own private depression era.
We moved constantly, from city to city, state to state, my stepdad chasing work and a chance to provide for his family. We’d find ourselves living in a one room motel kitchenette, 2-3 weeks from a payday with nothing but rice, onions and tomato sauce, given to mom on credit from the local grocery. Mom would fill our bellies with rice with sugar for breakfast and Spanish rice at night…every day.
I never knew where I’d wake up the next day. I learned to remain detached from people and not make friends. They’d only be left behind in a few weeks. I still have difficulty letting people close to me, even to this day. The only solid thing I had to cling to in life was my mom.
At one point we ended up in Illinois, moving right next to my cousins. Family was forever so alas, I finally had a real friend! My cousin, Little Frank, was my very best friend in all the world! We choreographed dance routines, built forts and snowmen. I wished to stay there forever but it wasn’t to be. But, I remember christmas there…
We had a live tree, whose fragrance filled the room and needles, scattered across the floor, pricked bare feet. That smell would forever be christmas to me and bring me back to that very place in time. My mother wrapped the tree in fat multi colored lights and my little brothers and my tiny fingers, laced silver strands of tinsel through it’s branches. With threaded needles, we strung popcorn for a garland and she taught me how to cut snowflakes from folded paper that she taped to the windows like a snowy day.
I watched her cut the cups from cardboard egg cartons she’d saved, wrap them in tin foil and string them together like silver bells. In the kitchen, she made cookie dough, divided it, dying half red with food coloring. We rolled out fine ropes of dough then twisted them together, making candy cane cookies.
When all was decorated, she lit up the tree and in my mind, I had never seen anything more beautiful…magical. By it’s light, we sang christmas Carol’s, nibbled warm cookies with cups of cold milk and befor6 bed, she told us stories, The Night Before Christmas and The Story of Jesus.
Christmas was meager, makeshift, frugal and homemade, but we had a mother who sat on the floor with her children, crafting decorations, singing songs, making memories and magic…out of nothing at all. And I think to myself, that in all that lean and little, I had never been richer.
L to R: Little Frank, Me, my brother, Eddie, Frank’s brother, Danny