My father and mother had what the Hollywood movie-makers call a “Meet-Cute.” My mother Jewel, was in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps in WWII and drove a supply truck. She made a fateful food delivery to the mess hall one day and met the cook, my father Jim. Their union last 35 years, until my father’s death in 1976, and produced 7 children. They were systematic people and named their children James, Joyce, Janice, Joan, John, Junene, and Julya.
I tell you that because it lays the ground-work for what I call the golden years of the 1960s when people really did Christmas right. I know, you probably think nostalgia is clouding my memory, and you would probably be right. But there is something to be said about these memories that so many of my peers share. Those scenes in our minds that resemble the late 80’s TV show, The Wonder Years. It was indeed, a wonderous time for me.
I was born on Christmas eve, 1961 and grew up believing that the people who showed up on our doorstep singing songs every year did that just for me. My mother would answer the door, whisper into an ear that it was my birthday, and the carolers would start to sing. Their voices, singing the Happy Birthday song, would echo down Oak Street, as I sat listening on the top step of my porch.
My mother was also one of seven children and in the 1960s our house was the place to be. Relatives from far and near would show up to eat the feast prepared by Jim and Jewel. Having a mother that is a great cook and a father that is a chef is fantastic for parties and producing fat kids. They did both.
Our den became a buffet line and approximately 80 people would file through to load up their plates. To this day, I believe random passersby joined the line for my father’s sumptuous food and mother’s classic salads. They didn’t care, to my father it made about as much sense as feeding a second cousin that he only saw once a year.
As the youngest child, I was spoiled beyond belief. My parents were older when they had me and my sister Junene, more stable financially. The earlier five kids had suffered through the lean years and to this day remind me of the disparity. Bottom line is I got whatever I asked Santa to bring me.
Junene would wake me up at 3am to go take a look in the living room at the goodies left behind by Santa. Remember the feeling that came over you? Remember what it was like to see that new bike glistening under the lights of the tree? If I could give one thing to every kid on the planet it would be that feeling. The utter joy that I can recall as a middle-aged woman and still get a tickle in my stomach. Wouldn’t that be a great gift to be able to share?
Carolers will not be on my porch singing and my mother’s arm will not be draped around me this year, but you know what? The 1960’s Christmas memories are enough to sustain me, they run that deep.
If you are reading this, try to make a memory, in the month of December, that someone might write about 40 years from now. Moments that last just 60 seconds, can live on in the child within us forever.
I wish for all of you one of those moments. Merry Christmas.