Just a Note
...from my mom's newspaper column, early 1960s, McHenry County, IL
Just a Note
From Gloria Coughlin
It's Christmas time, the time of the year when we spend too much money, buy too many gifts, work ourselves to a frazzle and complain constantly. I think it's great.
It's a time for remembering, and if you have a family it's the time for forming the memories that they will have 20 years from now.
This doesn't mean that you have to be all sweetness and light in the middle of this chaotic season. If you feel like screaming now and then, go ahead and scream.
If letting off steam will clear the air for a few laughs later, don't worry--the children won't remember the screams 20 years from now. They will just recall the laughs.
When I was a child, we had a large family and Christmas was a pretty wild affair. On Christmas eve the clan gathered at our house. They had to if they wanted to see us. We couldn't go anywhere because we were usually running around like maniacs doing all the things that we should have done the week before.
My mother was usually baking bread, wrapping gifts, stuffing a turkey, spiking the egg nog and entertaining the crowd simultaneously.
It was usually two o'clock in the morning before we got the papers on the kitchen floor. In our house, putting the papers down on the floor was the indication that the cleaning was done, the gifts were wrapped, the punch bowl was empty and everyone got ready to go to three o'clock mass.
When I say everyone, I mean just that. We didn't have a bedtime on Christmas Eve. If you were nine or ninety, you went to church in the middle of the night.
When we got home from church, we took the papers off the kitchen floor and everyone sat down to beautiful Christmas breakfast that seemed to materialize out of nowhere. After breakfast we opened our gifts and collapsed.
My mother was the focal point of the Christmas preparations. She did the work and my father pulled the boners. It was like watching a vaudeville act.
It was my father who bought the tree, but it was my mother who had to drill the holes and add the branches to cover up the bare spots that he didn't see at the time of the purchase. We like to think it was because he had bad eyesight.
It was my father who put the tree in the stand and my mother who caught it when it fell.
My dad insisted on doing his own shopping. The Christmas that I was ten years old, he bought me a box of White Owl Cigars. He never could quite figure out why. His worst faux pas was a Christmas card that he sent to my mother that said, "Merry Christmas To My Friend in the Service."
One year he told us that he'd buy the turkey and ended up buying seven pounds of hamburger. For years after we called him "Wimpy" and got hysterical at the sight of a turkey.
My mother and father are both gone, but they left behind a gift that we'll always have at Christmas time.
Memories of love and laughter.
Posted by Amy at November 30, 2008 07:28 PM