This time of the year triggers many memories when I hearken back to my childhood. This year is different. This is the first Christmas in my life that I will not hear my mother’s voice wish me a “Merry Christmas Chipper!” This year, the avalanche of memories rushing through head remind me of how very fortunate I have been in this life.
Being a member of the over 50 crowd, I have gone through many Christmas days. I was a lucky young lad when Santa made his rounds. One year, my little brother and I woke up to matching sets of cowboy gear. Clad with our cowboy hats and six-guns, we struck a fine pose next to the Christmas tree that year.
Another time, Santa brought us a fine set of G.I. olive drab fatigues, complete with a beret and a wooden M-1 rifle. We blended in well when our mother took our picture next to the tanks next door at the National Guard Armory.
G.I. Joe’s, BB guns, footballs, baseball gloves, bicycles and other exciting toys to bring Christmas joy to little boys. All the neighborhood girls and boys would be out in the yards soon on Christmas day, playing with their newfound gizmos and gadgets from Santa’s visit. One of my childhood neighbors and friends once mentioned on a Facebook post that we lived an idyllic childhood in our little hometown. His words ring true to me as well, I think of the old TV show, “Leave it to Beaver”, when I think back to my childhood.
During the 1960’s, many animated Christmas shows were broadcast for the first time on TV. One of my favorites that I remember was “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. During one Christmas season, I made special mention of Rudolf when I was writing my letter to Santa Clause. I remember dutifully writing my letter and asking Santa to bring Rudolf with him on his visit this year. Living in the Deep South, many of our Christmas days were bright and sunny and there would have been no need for Rudolph to light the way. My mother took our letters and said she would mail them off to Santa Clause.
When Christmas day came, my little brother and I dashed into the living room that morning and waded in to the bounty from Santa. A G.I. Joe with an orange scuba suit with an underwater sea sled, a football, cowboy boots, boy, I was all set! My mother came in, watched the festive free-for-all, and smiled as we looked at amazement at each new gift from Santa. She briefly interrupted me and pointed up at the top of our Christmas tree. She said, “Look! You got a note from Santa Clause!” I looked up at the top of the tree and I saw a piece of notebook paper taped to one of the branches. My mother brought it down and we sat down and read it together,
I hope you have had a very Merry Christmas! I wanted to let you know that I received your letter and I brought Rudolph with me on my trip this year. Merry Christmas!
Love, Santa Clause
I looked at my mother and said “WOW! Santa Clause wrote me a letter and brought Rudolph!” The joy in a little boy’s heart was expressed on his face as he gazed up into his mother’s eyes. I took the letter and put it in a special box where I kept the “stuff’ I collected. Years later as a teenager, as I was going through my special box, I read the letter again. Penned in a beautiful cursive script, the letter brought as much joy to me then as when I first saw it. My mother had the most wonderful handwriting I have ever seen. Of course, my opinion is biased, but I think many of her friends and family would agree that her cards and letters were a fine example of cursive writing. Unfortunately, over the course of time, that particular letter has disappeared from the many mementos that I have collected over the years, but its meaning is one of the foremost memories in my heart. I was so blessed as a child to receive many toys and gifts from Santa and my family, but I think the most precious gift of all was the gift of a mother’s love. The most meaningful gift I received that Christmas was not found under the tree, but written on a piece of paper. A gift that followed me all of my life and continues to live in my heart and soul. I was blessed to share 54 wonderful Christmas seasons with my mother, but I miss her today. Her unwavering faith and love inspired me while she was here. Now that she is in heaven, her memory will follow me for my lifetime and I will always remember my note from Santa.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!