Back when my parents were together... and my brother and I were chitlins, Christmas was a unique experience in our house.
First... we had two trees, a real one downstairs, where the Claus deposited our presents, and a tree upstairs in by the front window for the world to see. I think that it is this tree that has resulted in a great deal of my mental issues for you see, in the true spirit of the 70’s, it was Silver.... thats right a Silver aluminum tree. It had Silver Garlands and was decorated in one color of balls and one color only... red, and one color of lights... White.
This tree still haunts my dreams, the thought of every kid seeing that tree, that horrific silver tree sent shivers up my spine. At night, when mom would turn off the lights, except those on the tree, it glowed with a otherworldly radiance...like a yuletide Guardian of Forever, I believe this tree was responsible for the down fall of the true Christmas spirit.
Another oddity in our house was the fact that my mother was a Emergency Room nurse and worked on Christmas eve. So when we young boys, clad in our bunny-footed Pajamas, vaulted out of bed and made for the stairs, we were halted by our father with the words “we have to wait until your mother gets home”. Pacing back and forth, rolling on the floor in agony we waited... and waited... and waited, knowing that the other kids were already knee deep in mirth and merriment, till finally Mom came home and we exploded down stairs.
Our gifts were never wrapped, Santa knew that would have been wasted effort, they were just laid out in Zones of control, Mine, My brother... and the dogs, like post war Germany. Though we were not wealthy, we had fantastic Christmas’s. I remember G.I Joe’s, ACtion Jackson’s, Major Matt Masons, Bikes and all matter of childhood delights.
I have been told one year we got a Air gun that shot ping pong balls ( lit looked like the guns in Santa Claus Conquers the martians) and we “accidentally” blew apart my moms bee-hive hair-dew with it.
Of course, Our lists were all comprised from the sacred pages of the Sears wishbook. I Did have a friend who would get the JC Pennies catalog but it was like the pope reading the Koran, there was just something wrong about it. Pages and pages of every imaginable slice of plastic happiness.
Like most people, Christmas morning was allot like a prison visit, you could only visit your beloved toys for a little while and then you had to leave. We visited family all day, and the whole time I am counting the minutes till we got back home. It was as we celebrated with our family, I was given a glimpse of Christmas future... that is when we got the Clothes, socks, gloves and other gifts, while practical and needed, none the less it required every ounce of youthful control to get out a seemingly heart felt “thank you”.
I always loved Christmas as a kid, I fell out of love for a while, but with birth of my own children, some of that old magic has been re-awakened... and all with out a Silver Tree.