Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My mother always burned a pair of tall bayberry candles on Christmas Eve. They smelled delicious. They were always real bayberry. Artificial scents are not the same, no matter what the commercials tell us. She would never blow out these candles. I don't remember Mother being superstitious about anything else, but she said it was unlucky not to let them burn down to nothing on Christmas Eve. If they hadn't burned all the way down by the time we went to bed, she would put them into the bath tub so they would finish safely.
After my brother was married, we went to his house on Christmas Eve. (The candles went into the tub while we were gone.) That means we spent most of the night just waiting. No one in the world moved slower than my brother and sister-in-law. And they spent a great deal of time discussing what their next move might be. First, we waited for him to pick us up. He was always late for everything, and he would tell us the time he would come for us, but he was never, never there anywhere near that time. Mother, who was compulsively early for everything, would sit there with her coat and purse next to her and keep asking where he could be, and did I think something had happened to him? I knew my brother, and just laughed it off. He would finally arrive, and drive us slowly to his house.
When we finally arrived, we waited some more. Nothing was ever ready for company. They never were even quite finished trimming the tree. Unlike our "gingerbread" multi-colored tree, theirs always had a color theme, which I found depressing. Every big, round ball was precisely placed, uniform in color and size. Their tinsel was placed - never thrown - onto each branch, slowly and carefully. At some point, growing impatient, I would ask to be allowed to help with the tinsel, and I would toss it, just to annoy them. They would say nothing, but followed my efforts by correctly smoothing it and hanging it straight from each needle. (My brother was no fun, His wife was just as bad. Any time that ice cream was served in their house, it was half melted by the time you got it because they moved so slowly.)
The first time I ever over-indulged in alcohol was at my brother's house on a Christmas Eve. I'm not much of a drinker. It doesn't take much to make me tipsey. I only remember one other time when I had way too much. Normally, one drink is my limit. I think I was just bored to death that Christmas Eve and kept sipping wine. I don't even like wine very much. I was sitting on the floor that evening, all the chairs being filled. It wasn't until I stood up to go home that I learned I'd had too much to drink. No harm done. He drove us home, and I fell into bed. My stocking had been hung much earlier, while we were waiting for him to pick us up.
Christmas morning was much more fun. After church my sister and her husband would come to spend the day, and friends would drop in. And usually, there would be snow on the ground, often deep snow. Ah yes, those were the days - when I actually enjoyed snow!
Meantime, back in CA, my daughter is getting carried away with this flashback to other Christmases thing. She is offering not one, but three (or was it four?) memories of past years with Isaac. Letters to Santa and all. I LOVE IT !
Looks like the chickens like sledding in the snow.