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Christmas memories from the valley

GAYS MILLS - I am feeling a little guilty for not getting of a Christmas tree this year.

My friend looked at me with shock and a little bit of shame, when I answered the age-old question, “Ya got your tree up yet?” 

“Nah, we aren’t putting one up, Thatcher would probably try to climb it or knock it over, or something chaotic,” I answered.

“Are you at least hanging stockings?” she managed to stammer out.

I figured, even though we didn’t have an official Christmas tree, ol’ Santa wouldn’t mind.

When I was growing up, we lived in a rather rickety old farmhouse. Although we always had a Christmas tree, we never had a chimney fireplace for old Santa to roll out of. I fretted aloud about this problem one year to my mom, who assured me Santa can always find his way in.

I wonder if Thatcher will look at our home, with more than one chimney and an elaborate stone woodstove and worry Santa might get lost?

For as many books and movies as there are about the jolly old fat man, he remains still to this day, rather mysterious. You would think with all the advances in technology and science they would have caught up to his tricks by now.

Like how can he eat all of those cookies in one night? One year, I tried to be cool and win some extra points with our favorite bearded home intruder and left him this fancy popcorn ball my grandma made, wrapped in festive pink cellophane. I thought for sure he would find it a cut above the rest.  I laid in my bed anxious for Christmas morning to arrive, not only to see a mountain of goodies, but also to see if he found the popcorn ball a favorable offering.

Alas, I was sorely disappointed. He had not as much as even unwrapped the sticky treat.  My dad reassured me that I shouldn’t take it personally. “He probably just didn’t want it to pull out his fillings,” he said.

Right around that time was when my cousin Amber was blessed with the most impressive specimen I’ve ever seen. For some strange reason when Santa stopped at her house, he shed a cluster of beard hair upon the cookie she left him. It was exactly what you would imagine a beard of an elderly man with magic coursing through his veins to look like—perfectly white and covered in glitter.

She carefully unwrapped it after she extracted it from its safe place in her freezer. I reached out to touch the forbidden fur, only to be swatted back by Amber, who assured me it would most certainly be destroyed if I put my grubby little paws on it. However, I could stare at it for as long as I’d like.

One year, we got home really late from my grandma’s Christmas Eve party and we were hurrying for the door, in fear if we didn’t get into bed soon, Santa would drive right past our house. His sleeping child radar catching that we were up past our bedtime. When suddenly, my dad stopped fumbling for his keys, and looked up at the roof.

“Do you hear that?” he asked in a whisper, “I swear I heard jingle bells.” 

My brother and I drew more quiet than we probably had ever been in our lives. Listening so hard, I was pretty sure I heard them too, the distant jingle jangle of Ol’ Kris Kringle.  We quickly scampered inside and retrieved some carrots for Rudolph and all of his pals and my dad obliged when we instructed him to throw them up on the roof to make it easier on the Christmas Crew.

One of the most magical Santa ponderings I’ve ever had however was how the sleigh ride was for my little poodle, Sissy.

Normally, the rule was we had to wait until the sun was starting to come up. And even then, we were never able to open presents until my mom had drank a cup of coffee and smoked a cigarette. We would crouch anxiously on our respective sides in front of the tree until her last drag gave the green light.

But this year was different. When we busted down her door yelling, “IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!” She issued us quite the surprising gift.

“Look what I found down with the presents!” my mom exclaimed handing us a tiny, fuzzy puppy. “I went down to get some cold medicine and there she was, Santa must have dropped her off.”

I’m pretty sure my mom asked Santa for a few extra hours of sleep that year and the puppy was her wish come true. My brother Patty and I ran off into my room and debated on what we should call the little pup. I voted for Pocahontas, and Patrick was hoping for Scamper. My mom later informed us though that Santa had already filed the papers with the AKC and her name was ‘Emily’s Little Sister’ or ‘Sissy’ for short.

Although I don’t really want a puppy, I just might have to figure out how to file a parental request with Santa, because I too could use a few extra hours of sleep for Christmas this year.