TRAVEL HERE: CHRISTMAS MEMORIES
When I was a kid, my Christmas activities were tied to my school, my church and my family. The other constant was driving around to see Christmas lights. We moved back to Dallas in 1966 and hit the Christmas bonanza. Highland Park, specifically Beverly Drive, was the most amazing Christmas array of outdoor decorations you can imagine. Nowadays there are many neighborhoods vying for top dog status, which is probably a relief to the Beverly Drive residents. What’s more, my hubby is just not to excited about crawling bumper- to-bumper through any neighborhood for any reason that does not involve profit. The other big deal in my childhood days was the After Christmas Sales.
Post Christmas Shopping Frenzy
This Black Friday business is a recent phenomena. The big shopping event used to be the day after Christmas. Aunt Edie, Mom and I were enthusiastic about this annual event. My sister Susan and Aunt Tommie would often join us, but they weren’t quite as pumped about rising early to fight the crowds. For us the primary focus of the day was Christmas decorations. Susan and I would stand in the long lines while the adults rushed about gathering the deals and parking them with us. Sometimes I’d make treks out to the car to unload the purchases into the trunk and then hurry back in for the next retail foray. Sometimes we would fill up the car at one mall, deliver our goodies to the house and head to another mall. It was madness.
In those days, Mom and Aunt Edie used to trade off Christmas and Thanksgiving. One year Mom would do Thanksgiving and Aunt Edie would do Christmas. The next year Aunt Edie did Thanksgiving and Mom did Christmas. One of the benefits of this was the variety it added to our post-Christmas Shopping Orgy. In Dallas we hit all the big malls and shopped the department stores. Aunt Edie lived in Temple – a much more boutique experience. Aunt Edie’s shopping habits made her a known quantity in her small town and her arrival was always treated with elaborate gestures of welcome. We’d visit florists, small shops, hardware stores and drug stores. On occasion, we’d hit Salado rather than Temple. What fun we had!
All this started when I still lived at home and eventually I did have my own place, but I still didn’t have a lot of discretionary income. Collecting ornaments was something I did as a traveled, on a one-by-one basis, rather than stocking up at years end. In defense of Mom and Aunt Edie, they used the sales to buy up on holiday gifts for the next year. They both belonged to a wide variety of organizations which required them to participate in gift exchanges. By December 27th of one year, they’d be stocked up for Christmas in the coming year. Occasionally I noticed, however, that what one December was bought as a gift, might actually end up on our tree or coffee table.
Eventually, the day arrived that I could afford to join in the fun. I was married with my own two-story house to decorate. In a few years we moved out to California and built an even bigger house. Mom and Aunt Edie would come out to visit and though they were no longer so interested in the holiday decor for themselves, they were more than happy to help me find things I couldn’t live without.
Thrice Blessed at Christmas
Now Mom and Aunt Edie are gone. Aunt Edie didn’t have any kids and my sister didn’t catch the holiday decor bug, so I inherited two houses worth of Christmas. While I did do some culling and selected only the creme de la creme from both collections, when I declare it’s time to start decorating, I’ve got a lot of Christmas to spread around. It is a task of joy. I’m a visual sort, so the very sight of these treasures unleashes so many memories. I can recall the very day we bought them and from which store. If they were Mom or Aunt Edie’s I can tell you where they used them around their house. For the entire month of December, it’s as if they have come for a visit. We reminisce about the Christmases of the past and enjoy the season together.
I don’t go to the after Christmas sales now. Why would I? Every nook and cranny already has it’s own bit of Christmas and there’s always plenty left over, just-in-case. When we first moved into our house here in Heath, I did realize I suddenly had ten windows on the front of the house, something none of us had contended with before. That first year I was Scrooge – until I could hit Hobby Lobby the day after Christmas. In about 10 minutes I’d picked up 10 wreaths with big red bows and made it through the lines. Bill went with me that day, but so did Mom and Aunt Edie – at least they were there in spirit.