Christmas on Tatum Street

Every year I say I’m not going to buy a new Christmas CD. I mean really, I have countless CDs and most of them have all the same songs! But almost every year, a CD comes out that I can’t pass on purchasing. Last year it was Rod Stewart. Well hello? How could I not buy a Rod Stewart Christmas album? And I was happy with the purchase. This year, while I’m not necessarily a fan, I saw that Susan Boyle was coming out with a Christmas CD and I preordered it. The CD is in the mail but I’m able to download it today and I’ve got to say – I like it!

Susan sings Oh Come All Ye Faithful with a recording of Elvis and it’s beautiful. She does another duet with Johnny Mathis, equally as beautiful.

It’s not so much the words to the songs or even what they represent to the world but rather the warm loving memories they bring to me. I love Christmas! My Mother loved Christmas and she passed that down to me. My two ex-husbands shared that one thing they would really miss was Christmas with me.

When my Mom grew up they had very little to share. And I always loved the story about the Christmas Mom and Dad were so poor that Daddy gave Mom stockings and Mom gave Daddy handkerchiefs. Mom always said it wasn’t about the gifts but the love – she lived that philosophy – it’s all about the love.

There was one Christmas of my childhood when I received all I asked for; I know that I received four BIG presents from Santa but can only remember one right now – a Green Ghost Game. I believed in Santa for a long, long time and it was customary for him to leave one present I considered big (expensive) and several small gifts like socks and a baby doll. There were always lots of presents under the tree. Mom’s mantra was, “Even a little something is better than nothing.”

With seven kids and eventually grandkids and great grandkids, Mom had to get creative. Mom loved to make things and all of us have at least one piece of ceramics made by her. She began embroidery as a way to keep her arthritic fingers moving and have “something under the tree” for everyone. Later she began making candy – she always made a cake for the boys down the street. And even later in life she would wrap something of hers that she knew I would love – those were always the most special gifts!

But it wasn’t all about the gifts! Our home was filled with people – friends and family – and a table full of food. Many families included a Christmas Eve stop at the Freeman house on Tatum street as an annual tradition. One of my sister’s ex-husbands brought his new wife and children every Christmas Eve. That was the thing – everyone was welcomed!

Mother would cook everyone’s favorite – Daddy didn’t like turkey so she’d make ham. She would make Yankee and Southern gravy, and Yankee and Southern dressing. When I returned home for the holidays as an adult, she’d have a table full of food, and pots all over the stove for “Sharon’s food,” which meant vegetarian versions of everything she made with meat.

There were some bad times….sad times…challenging times. And there was a time in my life when my focus was on the arguing and complaining among me and my siblings. I lost my appreciation for being at home for the holidays. I actually lost my Christmas Spirit. But now I only reflect on the good times…going to the A&P to pick out a Christmas tree, riding the Pink Pig at Rich’s, and waiting for my brother and sisters to come home. Being the youngest of a large family was hard because it often felt like everyone left me (yes I have dealt with abandonment issues) but it was ever so sweet when they all came home, even if it meant I had to sleep in the sewing room!

People complain that the holidays come to the stores too early and I understand that. Let’s have Halloween before we plan our meals and buy the gifts. But to me, Christmas is such a sweet time of year, I don’t mind if it begins a little early. For me, the holidays actually begin November 1st.

I don’t shop much in stores so I’m not bothered by the tree decorations next to the skulls and monsters. I’ve already started watching Christmas movies on Netflix and on DVD. And I’ve purchased my train ticket for a Christmas in NY.

I’ve struggled to write lately as my left shoulder continues to freeze and my desire for sugar comes and goes. I’m feeling change in the air – deep, important change – and I know it’s necessary to stay grounded and grateful for the present moment while I dream and vision of the other side of change. But this morning these words want to be written and while it is very, very early, I want to say to my Mom, I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams!

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