Not long after we met, and after I expressed my wishes to learn more about writing, my husband said: "Writing well is hard work." And I have always remembered these words. Nevertheless, my passion for this art was strong. And though that was well over two years ago, I still read and write about many things. But he was right; it's very hard. I must also add, however, that writing is a form of expression unsurpassed by any other to those who have an unremitting thirst for knowledge and the heart of a romantic, plus are hard working, imaginative, and bright. As all these "stars" align, we can't help ourselves—I can't help myself. Becoming a better writer is inevitable. Right? Well, perhaps?
Anyway, I'm still learning; I'm still writing. I guess I always will be. And the topics I choose come from everywhere and anywhere; from everyone and anyone; and could include anything, which brings me to the next subject.
Recently, BFF 24 (Blogging for Fun) posted their topic of the week: First Christmas. And I couldn't resist. But I have many first Christmases. So then, which should I select? Let's visit each. Shall we?
Of course, the very first's brain-file has been completely erased. Come on, people, there's no way in hell to "click" on that file to open it—I was three months old at the time. There isn't enough memory in my "hard drive" to recall that moment in time.
I have, however, seen pictures. And to be honest, I don't look very happy. My face in each is scrunched as if to say "You woke me up for this?" or "Put me down dammit, I was sleeping."
I do, on the other hand, remember the December 25th upon which I received a Susie Bake Oven. As far as I'm concerned, no other childhood gift brought such joy. The irony here is that presently, I don't cook. I rarely boil water.
As an adult, I traveled quite a bit, as a result of which preparing meals for my family took a back seat to establishing a career. Still, I remember the long hours propped in front of that miniature, aluminum stove as a child, creating dishes I made my parents eat. At the time, I believed they were rather tasty— and my parents told me so.
But now, looking back, I see the twisted faces of two people who wanted their child to think her food was appetizing. When in reality, it must have tasted pretty damn awful.
Ah, the joys of parenthood…
And while we're on that subject, the next two "firsts" were my children's. Each was unique, to my mind. There's nothing like a child's first Christmas day as seen through the eyes of a parent. My daughter was two months old on her first Christmas. She was my firstborn, and I remember holding her by the tree and showing her all the ornaments and lights. No light shone brighter that Christmas than the one I held in my arms, though. My son was four months old on his first Christmas, seven years later. And this time, my daughter was the one who carried him to the tree and showed him all the wonders hanging there. From that day forward, I knew my two Christmas stars would shine brightly for me on every holiday—no matter what else happened in my life.
I must also include one other first Christmas, which occurred in between the two I just mentioned. My daughter was five years old at the time. After one of the numerous downward spirals in my life—and there were many—we moved to Florida during the month of November. With no money, no job, and no place to stay, I looked up an old friend. Fortunately for us, he took us in. His finances, however, weren't the best either. So, the night I arrived, I searched high and low for a job, and found one.
Even though I worked long and hard hours, I still didn't have enough money for Christmas.
Telling a five-year-old child "Santa isn't coming this year" is distressing at best.
Oh sure, I tried to soften the blow by saying: "He doesn't know our new address" and "Maybe he'll come later in the year, just for you." But still, her eyes welled up with tears, and she cried at least once a day, every day until Christmas. I felt like a failure.
But we borrowed an artificial tree from my landlord, which made my daughter a little happier. And together, we made construction paper ornaments and garlands, which we decorated with crayons and glitter (She still puts them on her Christmas tree).
On Christmas Eve we sat by the tree, sang Christmas carols, and said our prayers.
Early the next morning, my daughter ran into my bedroom screaming: "Santa did come, mommy! He came! He really came!" I hadn't purchased any gifts, so her words put me on the alert: Someone must've broken into the house! He could still be here! I sprang out of bed. But my daughter took me by the hand and dragged me into the front room; all the while chanting, "Come on mommy, come on." And what did I see under our supposed-to-be-bare tree, but many presents wrapped in colorful paper and shiny bows. There was a Strawberry Shortcake bicycle and sleeping bag, a doll, a doll's stroller, and board games. All lay underneath our scantly decorated tree.
"See, mommy? Santa knew where we live!" was the last thing she said before ripping open all the presents. Her smile could've lit anyone's darkest hour—especially mine.
Later that day, I discovered that our landlord, with the help of a few neighbors, was our Santa Claus that year. And for the first time in my adult life I felt the true spirit of Christmas.
It is a very special memory that my daughter and I will always share.
The next "first" Christmas was the one I spent without my kids. Once our children become adults and move out on their own, our holidays are very different— bleaker, to my mind. Oh sure, we still have the joyful pastimes of Christmas dinners and exchanging gifts. But they're never quite the same as the running-down-the-stairs-screaming-it's-Christmas-5:00am-wake-up-call-and-tearing-open-the-gifts mornings of the past.
Last, but by no means least on my list, was my first Christmas in Roswell, Georgia, in 2007. After a dreadful divorce and two years of solitary confusion, I met Jeff. Later that year, I moved to Georgia in time to witness the fall colors. I was still in getting-accustomed-to-my-new-environment mode on December 25th. But Ma Bean and Jeff did everything they could to make me feel welcome. For starters, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with hot cocoa (a childhood favorite of mine), a bottle of Riesling, and an assortment of extraordinary cheeses, meats, smoked and pickled fish, breads, crackers, caviar, cookies, crudités—a real smorgasbord. And the next morning, under the tree, there were gifts for everyone—including Connor; our psycho puppy, who had made the fateful journey to Georgia with me. I'll never forget how I felt that Christmas: Loved, appreciated, and wanted.
But most of all, I knew I was finally home.