On the cusp of Christmas Day, I thought I would share a magical Christmas memory, and explain “when you get paid in collards there’s no money for Christmas.” My dad was a doctor, but we were far from rich, as people automatically assumed. My dad was kind and big-hearted, and more often than not, took payment in the form of:
- a bushel of collards,
- a bushel of turnip greens,
- a bushel of green beans,
- a bushel of cabbages, and
- the yuckiest-looking, stinky, fishy-smelling fish I’ve ever seen in my life.
Oh I’ve got some stories about those bushels, and especially that fish! Stories for another day. Just remember, when you get paid in collards, there’s no money for Christmas, and not much else. I remember that year well…
- when I was five
- when I still believed in Santa Claus,
- when I listened for reindeer hooves on the roof,
- and woke to a huge pile of presents under the tree on Christmas morning, or at least, it seemed so.
Funny…that year Mama said she didn’t have any money, but in my memory, it was a most magical Christmas! Today I marvel over the precisely drawn knobs and cabinet doors on a simple cardboard box, which was the kitchen counter for the dollhouse I asked for. I ran across it recently when going through forgotten boxes under the bed, smiling at the memories.
If you look past stains, peeling paper, and browned, scotch tape edges, you can see the charm of the old “kitchen counter.”
As I recall, I asked for both a dollhouse and a drum.
And here is the dollhouse!
Opening the bottom doors of the old washstand, reveals the dollhouse. Entirely covered with “wallpaper,” it had “pictures” on the walls, and the doll bed in the corner.
The kitchen counter fit nicely on the opposite wall.
Wish you could see the blue princess doll bed she constructed out of a coathanger, part of a wooden box, a piece of foam, and bits of fabric and lace. It even had one of those halo canopy things with pearls and cascading fabric around the head of the bed. I can just picture her staying up late laboriously putting it together. I kept it for many years, until it finally fell apart. The kitchen counter and the “prince accessories” are all I have left.
You know a “Prince” has to be outfitted properly to woo his princess. He has to have a Prince’s tunic, (blue), and a special cardboard hat (hand sewn with blue thread).
And of course, he has to have his (cardboard) shield (decorated with rhinestone and heart-shaped thingy), and sword (made from a hatpin).
She made the drum from a tall Quaker’s oatmeal container. In my mind I pictured….well, I don’t know what I pictured…but I remember being a bit disappointed by the homemade drum. I didn’t play with it much, but this tomboy played for years with the dollhouse and accessories!
My Grandmother usually spent Christmas with us, but rarely gave gifts. That year was the exception. She gave me 2 little reindeer she made.
Grandmother, who I’m named after, was OLD…utterly ancient. She had little money, and lived in an old white farmhouse in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She married my 40-something Grandfather when she was 16, and they had 9 children. My mother was the baby.
Funny about her name…”Grandmother.” My brother called her “Granny.” My cousin, Ray, called her “Granny.” Most of the other cousins called her “Granny.” As I was about to follow suit, Mother told me emphatically, “YOU are to call her “Grandmother.”
I still have those little reindeer from over 60 years ago that she made with pipe cleaners, bits of styrofoam and sequins.
Where she got all those things I can’t imagine. This was waay before Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or Joann’s Fabrics even existed. I can just picture her scrounging through a meager stash to find the right supplies with which to make these engaging little fellas. At the time I wasn’t impressed, and couldn’t understand why Mother gushed over them so. KIDS! I was so clueless and ungrateful. I didn’t appreciate Grandmother’s efforts with arthritic hands until it was far too late to tell her so. By some miracle, the little reindeer survived many moves and purges. They are oh-so-precious to me now.
The only thing we ever gave her for Christmas was…not scented bath powder, not perfume, and not a knick-knack, but a big paper sack full of groceries, and I remember thinking, “GROCERIES??” But Mama said she was giving what Grandmother would never buy for herself. The sack was overflowing with boring things like post cards and stamps, lots of canned food, a great big jar of spiced peaches, and always a box of chocolate covered cherries. I like to think I inherited this from her because it’s my favorite food treat at Christmas too.
So as we’re about to enjoy another Christmas, I’ll be thankful for what I have, for the precious family who remain because nothing is ever a given.
And I’ll be ever so grateful for the unspeakable gift of God’s Son.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas!
Sharing with these link parties….