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Christmas Memories

Story ID:3349
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Writers Conference:My Favorite Holiday Story
Location:Fort Lee NJ usa
Year:2007
Person:My Family
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Christmas Memories

I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Mike, wake up”
“Did Santa come?” I rubbed my eyes and looked at my two older brothers.
“Yes!” they said together. “Come on!” they urged me.
We entered the living room and turned on a light. Under the tree was a pile
of packages wrapped in bright red paper. We sat down and opened every single one
of them.
“What is going on?” Mum screamed – her hair still messed from sleep. She
surveyed the room. Christmas wrapping lay scattered around the room. Presents were
piled on the sofa. “What did you do?” Mum was near tears. It took her several hours
and many calls to determine who received what from whom. We learned a painful
lesson that day.
The three of us sat gingerly in our chairs at the table. “Don’t you ever do
that again!” Dad yelled.”

********************

On my way home from school one late October afternoon, my friend Carmen
yelled from his house. “It came!”
My heart skipped a beat. “It’s here?” I yelled back. “The Sears Christmas
catalogue?”
“Yes!” Carmen shouted and disappeared into his house.
I held my books tight and ran for home. “It’s here!” I kept repeating to myself.
“It’s finally here.”
For the next two months, my brothers and I spent every chance we could, flipping
through the toy section of the Sears catalogue. It contained pages and pages of dreams. It
was rightfully called the Sears “Wish Book”.
I burst through the door, threw my books on the table, and yelled “Mum, did we
get ours?”
“Our what?” she teased.
“Mum!”
“It’s on the sofa.”
I sprinted to the living room. There it sat – hundreds of pages, filled with
everything a person could want. I sat down, placed it on my lap, and opened the pages
to the toy section – trucks, cars, games, dolls (I skipped passed those), and toy guns.
It was a treasure-trove of dreams. The catalogue would be a tattered mess by the
time Christmas arrived.

********************

The small tree stood on a two foot, wooden box in the corner. Our house was too
small to have a full-sized tree. Mum and Dad placed it on the box between the console TV and the end of the sofa.
I stretched out on the sofa and stared at the tree. A red ball caught my eye. Its
smooth sides created a mirror image of the other Christmas ornaments, tinsel and lights. I
blew, watched the tinsel swing, and hoped Santa brought the toys I picked from the
catalogue.
Underneath the tree, placed around the box, presents from our aunts and
uncles were stacked. I already guessed what most of them were. When Mum wasn’t
looking, I picked them up, measured their weight, felt their sides, and shook them.
I blew at the tinsel again. “Michael!” Mum scolded.
That year Santa gave me a Hot Wheels set. We pieced the track together and used
a chair to hold up the beginning of the track. I placed the little car on the track, watched
it speed to the bottom, around the loop, off the end of the track, and across the floor.
When I tired of that, I played with my new Spirograph set. It had four colored
pens and an assortment of plastic wheels and loops. For months, I pinned the parts to a
sheet of cardboard covered with a sheet of paper and made elaborate spiral drawings.

********************

“Vic?” I whispered to my brother in the top bunk above my oldest brother.
“What?” he rolled over and stared through the darkness in my direction. I could
barely distinguish his outline in dim light that filtered around the blinds from the
streetlight near our house.
“Did Santa come yet?”
“I don’t know.” He stretched and yawned.
“Let’s check!” I whispered. Mum and Dad slept on the other side of the wall from
our room.
“OK!” Vic climbed down the ladder from his upper bunk. Our older brother,
Bob, still slept. “Don’t make any noise.” he whispered back. “Remember what happened
last year?”
I remembered the spanking from the year before. “I won’t.”
We opened the door and peered in to the dark living room. The only light came
from the streetlight. It reflected off the lead tinsel hanging from the branches of our tree.
Under the tree were stacked brightly-wrapped presents. Vic crept closer. “Did I get the
race car set?” I whispered.
“I can’t tell. It’s too dark. There’s a big box under there.” He whispered back. “It
could be a race car set. We’d better get back to bed. If Mum and Dad hear us, we’ll be in
big trouble.”
We crawled back in bed and waited until the sun came up. “Vic, do you think
it’s the race car set? Are you sure?”
“I couldn’t tell. It was the right size. Mine was like that a couple years ago.”

********************

“Boys?” Dad walked into our room, drunk like he always was at Christmas.
“Boys, Santa came!”
“Dad, go to bed.” we said in unison. We were older. Our gifts could wait. We
knew, Dad was trying to relive moments he missed. In the past, when we opened our
gifts he, was too drunk to wake up. We opened them with Mum watching.

********************

I woke. The sun lighted our room. I turned to Georgia. “Vanessa’s not up yet?” I
enquired about our three-year-old daughter.
“I don’t hear her.” she yawned.
We waited. A few minutes later, I heard Vanessa’s door open, then the pitter-
patter of her rush to the living room. There was a pause. Her pounding feet grew louder,
as she rushed to our room. I listened to her fall and get up. The door to our room burst
open. “Santa came!” she screamed.
We crawled from bed, scooped up our month-old son Justin, and headed to the
tree. Vanessa was thrilled with a pink baby carriage. Justin sucked on his bottle. Santa
meant nothing to him.

********************

I put my arm around Ginny. Memories flash through my mind. Vanessa lives
seven hundred miles away. Justin is twenty and lives with us. Georgia is in heaven.
Ginny’s husband is there with her. Ginny’s children – Heather and Brandon – live in two
different states.
Ginny snuggled up to me. We stared at our tree. It’s covered with memories. Most
are old and from my past, but scattered between them are new ornaments that signify
our new life together. In the future, we will add more memories to the branches. The
tree will become our combined tree of memories.

Michael T. Smith