Once again, and despite every effort, I’ve failed to turn myself back into a child this Christmas. I do sometimes suspect that’s what all this running around is about: me trying to go back to the world as it was before that day my mother spilled Santa’s brains all over the floor of our Chevrolet van on the way to Cedar City.
She did Christmas so well. Somehow, year after year she was able to spin the stale straw of our difficult homelife and relative penury into golden Christmas fantasies. In the process she created die-hard Christmas fanatics of her four children. How did she do it? I suspect scarcity was essential. She hates to cook; consequently, the holidays were pretty much the only time of year when we had any homemade baked goods, or almost anything homemade for that matter. And what baked goods! Oatmeal cherry cookies and candy cane shaped cakes! She also cut us off after the last of the birthdays in October so that by Christmas morning such mundane items as socks and shoes without holes, scissors and Scotch tape had been magically transformed into treasures by virtue of our making do without them for so long.
Black Friday at the mall cannot hold a candle to those days-after-Thanksgiving we spent combing the hills around Minersville in search of the perfect tree, watching our father saw it down, and singing carols as we piled into the cab of the truck to take our spoils back home to decorate.
Christmas Eve was the best and worse night of the year; the best because the multi-colored glow of our Christmas tree and the sound of bells and my family singing Silent Night so sanctified our living room that Christ himself could have been born there, and the worst because a thousand torturous lifetimes elapsed in the sleepless night my siblings and I passed in the orange bedroom listening to Christmas music and watching the clock. At 5:00 a.m. we would start running around in circles calling out the time as each minute passed until we got to see our stockings at 6 and our presents at 7.
Even with her own pink tree in her princess room, I don’t know that Fluffy’s Christmases are as magical as mine were. I hope I have some of my mother’s wizardry in me for her sake. And although I can never resuscitate the corpse of my own Santa, I will try to make a wondrously jolly old elf for my children.