Christmas was wondrous when I was a child. With seven brothers and sisters it was a hectic and exciting time.
By the middle of December the tree was up and glasses of fudge had been passed around. All of the presents were around the tree tantalizing us. My brothers and sisters were incredibly good at figuring out what we were getting. My older brother Brad could pick up a package and with a simple flick of his wrist shake the package and tell you what was inside. The first step was to see if it was socks or underwear. If it wasn’t then what kind of toy was it? We were able to tell most of the time and my mom said it took the fun out of it.
When I was thirteen all I wanted was a nice chess set. The set I had was missing a pawn and a rook. I used a red button for the pawn and a blue button for the rook. I wanted a nice chess set more than anything. I had hinted for it and didn’t care if I got anything else.
That year my mom was carrying out the gifts and my brother picked up the first one, flicked his wrist, listened for the rattle and yelled, “Socks! Debbie is getting socks.” My mom got mad and took all of the presents back into her room. She came out, made dinner and didn’t say anything more about the presents. The younger kids were sure that Christmas was over but the next morning all of the presents were under the tree.
I looked for presents with my name on them and there weren’t any. Each one had a different number. One said 8, one 35, another 119. My mom said that she numbered them all so even if we guessed what was in them we wouldn’t know who was getting what. My brother picked up a package and rattled it. Since he didn’t know if it went to a five year old or a fifteen year old it was much harder to guess.
Christmas morning came and everyone was excited. My brother normally handed out the packages before my mom got up but couldn’t because we didn’t know who got what. Finally she got up and had a cup of coffee. We clamored for the list and she went into her bedroom to get it. She was in there a long time and when she came out she laughed and said she couldn’t find the list of names and numbers. Not to worry though, she remembered what everything was.
We sat around the tree and Brad would lift up a brightly colored gift and mom would announce whose it was. We went in turn around the tree and opened one present at a time. My older sister got a cowboy hat, my older brother got a chess set, my younger sister got a socket set and I got my first bra.
Everyone got a good laugh and presents were exchanged. The chess set was beautiful and I practically wore it out. My mother gave up on the list and let everyone guess at what they were getting. She started getting tricky by putting marbles in with the socks or putting the underwear in a really big box.
I now have wonderful Christmas mornings with my wife and daughter but they are nothing like those from my childhood. We didn’t have a lot but we sure had a lot of laughter and love.