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Sun, Nov. 17

Older Than Dirt: The Year Our Big Brothers Saved Christmas

Most people get a little sentimental around Christmas time. I think it reminds us all of those people we love that are no longer here to share these special days.

Over the past week or so I have asked many people, "How was your Thanksgiving?" The traditional answer of course would be, "It was great. I just ate too much." To my surprise, this was not the case for many people. I had no idea how some people actually celebrate this day. Arguments, too much booze, a lot of yelling and even fist fights! This is certainly NOT the Thanksgiving I know and love.

There are those who actually dread the thought of a Thanksgiving dinner with family. I hear, "The wife's family are all a bunch of nuts." And even a "I was hoping for bad weather so I couldn't get there!" I frankly do not understand any of this. The only time our relatives got goofy was maybe after twenty-four hours straight playing poker!

Yes, they did have a few wild moments over the years. I seem to remember one of my uncles who would often stand up, tear all his cards up and start yelling at everyone who was in the game. In a perfect world, Thanksgiving would bring us all together with loved ones to share and be thankful for our blessings. But alas, our world is anything but perfect, so let's move forward to Christmas.

We try so to pass down all the traditions we knew as children. Over the years, each generation wants to have their own style Christmas and make new memories with their children. Sometimes we just have to accept that things are no longer the same as they were for us, and they never will be.

Each of us probably has a Christmas that we remember as the "Best Christmas Ever."

My sister and I have one such holiday.

When we were about 8 and 10 years old, our Dad was a taxi cab driver. Business was not very good and our Dad was struggling just to pay the bills. With Christmas coming, we did not expect there would be much for us in the way of gifts. Mom and Dad were not really talking about Christmas. Our two older brothers were still in high school.

As the holiday got closer, sister and I lay in our beds one night and talked about what we should expect. We knew that there was no money, and we were actually OK with that. Oddly enough, we were just sad for our parents, because we knew how bad THEY would feel.

We did not have a Christmas tree that year, and that was OK, too. Sister and I seemed to always accept things as they were.

Our brothers had taken part time jobs that year, working at a Christmas tree lot. They went there every day after school and helped put the trees atop people's cars.

As Christmas Eve came, we just wanted it to be over. We knew it made our parents sad that they had no presents for us. Suddenly there came a loud knock at the door! It was my brothers, and they were dragging the most beautiful Christmas tree ever.

"The man was shutting down the lot and told us we could pick out a tree and take it home," they said

Sister and I were so excited. But we did not have any decorations to put on it.

My mother said, "I will show you how people used to decorate a tree."

She made popcorn and showed us how to string it with a needle and thread. She cut out pieces of colored paper and we made rings to go around the tree. We stuck the rings together with paste made from flour and water. My brothers went to the neighbor and asked if she had any decorations they weren't using. They brought back a whole box!

After we were done with the tree, our oldest brother went out to the trunk of our Dads car. He came back into the house with a whole bunch of presents. They were wrapped, and they had OUR names on them! My sister got a poodle skirt, and mine was an Elvis skirt. We got hand lotion, a diary for me and even got Christmas candy.

How did this Christmas miracle happen? My brothers took all the money they made from working at the Christmas tree lot, and bought sister and I presents.

With all the things they really needed themselves, they thought our gifts were more important because we were just little kids.

Sister and I often talk about that Christmas. Our brothers say they "don't remember any of it."

We grew up in a time long before $100 sneakers, or $300 games. It was indeed a time when what you owned was much less important than what you shared with your family and the memories it created.

Our own children and grandchildren will surely have stories of Christmas to pass on to future generations. They will likely never know what holidays were for us. My mother said that each generation seemed to be able to provide much more than the previous one. I guess she never figured out that the gifts they gave us could not be wrapped in Christmas paper, but instead were carried in our hearts throughout our lives.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Linda, Sister, old dog and old cat.

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