Well, it’s that time of year again, my favorite holiday, Christmas! And yes, my Charlie Brown Christmas tree is decorated, wrapped in a real baby blue blanket on my desk at work…right beside the other tiny tree, which is also fully decorated and on my desk. There’s a jingle bell door decoration on my office door….loud and annoying, like me, ha ha!!
Our home looks like this:
First there’s, the REAL Frazier Fir decorated in C9 LED lights and sentimental ornaments.
I even have flashing LED lights in the bathroom. I’ll probably keep those up after Christmas, cause I like them and I’m crazy enough to do what I want in my own home, lol!
Then we have some more decorations in the living room.
Finally, there’s the outside lights. These are my personal favorite. I’ve already watched a couple of cars slow down to check them out, just like I do when I see homes all lit up and “purty”!!
I’ve always loved looking at Christmas lights. I usually spent every year begging to drive around and look at them all around town. Growing up in Sumter, there was one house in particular on Hwy 521 South. It was a Christmas light masterpiece! The front yard, back yard, basketball goal, the house, the trees….EVERYTHING was strung in lights!! These huge trees in the front were strung with vertical strings of lights that hung like wisteria! They had a horseshoe driveway, and entrance/exit signs lit up to direct traffic. And they surely needed it too. I’ve waited in line many a time in my day to drive around their yard and be mezmerized and overjoyed by their labor of love. It was such a gift to the community for many years.
Today, there are lights at Riverbanks Zoo, Saluda Shoals, Swan Lake Iris Gardens, and James Island County Park. I love those too! In West Columbia, off of Oak Dr., there is an entire neighborhood that decorates. I’ve already driven through once this year, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m the adult who still hangs out of the truck, or stands up through the moon roof, to take pictures, all while blaring Christmas music. Bless Buck’s heart. I could have worse habits than a love for Christmas lights.
At least I’m not a musician…oh wait……
Most of my decorations I’ve accumated in small inexpensive bits over time. It amazes me the amount of money some folks spend at the holidays. I spend enough as it is, but it seems like people certainly get overstressed, overwhelmed and budget overspent for a time of year that should be about making memories.
My grandparents had all of us together every Christmas Eve. I spent the night on the 23rd. Many times, my brother or cousin Becky was there too. But, my life’s purpose as a kid was to stay with Grandma and help get the house and food ready for the big Christmas Eve shindig. I’d help pull out al the presents from under the beds and out of the closets, and place them under the tree. Grandma had some back issues, so this saved her a little trouble. She’d cook a feast too. Bbq Boston butt, Ward’s Bbq hash and rice, sweet potato souffle (my personal favorite ), punch, cakes, pies, chocolate covered pretzels and peanut butter Ritz cracker sandwiches…you name it!! She had a stack of Reader’s Digest Christmas albums that we’d pile up high and play all day. That is, until Granddaddy remembered his Marty Robbins albums. Ha ha ha ha!!! Then, we were “down in El Paso” until the family started showing up for the festivities! There were food and gifts galore, and the infamous paper fights and bonking all the cousins in the head with the wrapping paper tubes!! But, of all the commotion and fanfare, it was the time spent with each other that I recall the most. I was safe from bullying, spending precious time with those I loved. And taking home presents too!!
One year in particular, I recall when my Grandma Hanniford (my mama’s mama) was diagnosed with cancer. We went to Timmonsville to hang out with her and more of my sweet cousins!!! I’m blessed with awesome cousins on both sides. I have the best ever, and can never ever be convinced otherwise.
This particular year, one of them got a Foreigner album with “Hot Blooded” on it. I swear, we were all in the living room at Aunt Dot and Uncle Odell’s. The freestanding stove was cranked up with a toasty fire. I had gotten a Donald Duck Scrooge board game of some kind that we were playing, while blasting that Foreigner album wide open on the stereo. I bet we played Hot Blooded like a zillion times!!!! I danced my butt off and laughed and played games, and had a good ole time!!
Another time when I was 12 years old, my parents fell on hard times. I remember several instances where we fixed a tomato sandwich and drank Kool-aid, because it was all that was in the house. This particular Christmas was fairly lean. We were wanting to shoot fireworks really bad. We were begging just to buy one small pack of bottle rockets…anything just to be able to play with some fireworks. They simply didn’t have it. My mama said, “Honey, if you find some money somewhere, I promise you, we will drive you up there and buy you some. But, we simply don’t have it.” We understood and with heads hung low, decided to go for a ride on our old bikes. It was cold and drizzling rain. My brother and I ride down the street. I cannot make this up, I promise. In the middle of the street, is a $20 bill. We look around and there is NO one else around. The street is deserted. We are in shock and amazement. We leave it in the road, and race back in a fury. We tell our parents, “We found 20 dollars in the road!! There’s no wallet. There’s no one walking or riding bikes but us!! Can we keep it?!” They said yes. So guess what happened next? Yes, indeed!!!!! We trekked our happy butts in the car up to the fireworks stand, giving thanks for the Christmas miracle!!!! We bought all the whistling sky rockets, bottle rockets, rose spinning, color chasing, Roman candle, smoke bomb, snap throwing, black cat firecrackers 20 bucks could buy!!!! That was SUCH a wonderful Christmas night. Our friends came over in the back yard, and we blew stuff up ALL NIGHT!!!!! I do believe in miracles. I’m so thankful for the gift of Jesus, the love of family and friends, and for all the memories being made. Those moments are what I cling to and reflect on when times get rough. I’ve lost 3 family members, a dear friend and my sweet Abby dog this year. I miss them so. But, the tears I shed are tears of gratitude for the time spent, not regret. Make this time count for something meaningful. I’m feeling sentimental. Think I’ll go play my favorite Christmas song. I love you all. God bless us, everyone!!!!