Even a child of poverty like myself saw Christmas through the eyes of innocence.
I was too young to know our Christmas meal of meatloaf
was lovingly, carefully cooked dog food fresh from the can ...
Its red topping from packets of ketchup plucked from the garbage bin behind our basement apartment.
The meatloaf tasted great to me ...
You see, it was served with the most magical of sauces:
The candle atop it was saved from my birthday cupcake,
but its brightness filled our dark apartment with love and magic.
Veteran of so few Christmases,
I didn't recognize our Christmas Tree was really a wiring together of broken pine needles
Mother had stealthily scooped up from a near-by lot selling whole trees.
All I knew was that their aroma filled our small basement apartment
with the magic that anything was possible.
Looking up through the lone window at sidewalk level,
Mother and I would sing carol after carol, their titles sparked by what we saw ...
Silver Bells. Let It Snow. Pretty Ribbons. O Holy Night.
I would eventually drift off to sleep,
awakening to my present not knowing the terrible price Mother had paid for it.
The red wagon bought from the money Mother received for selling a pint of her blood,
though she was so weak and frail.
The humongous stuffed tiger nearly as large as me
kept on layaway for 8 long months by a kind, patient store owner.
(I still have stuffed tigers in my apartment, standing vigil over a perplexed Midnight and myself.)
By the way,
my childhood love of tigers nearly killed me on my first trip to the Detroit Zoo.
That story, however, is for another time.
But the Christmas and its carols of my childhood
( and I suspect from the childhood of most children)
are captured by ears still hearing the clatter of reindeer hooves atop roofs
and the chimes of snowflakes singing.
Let us cling to that child-like wonder this Christmas for as long as we can, shall we?
What do the memories and carols
of your childhood Christmases
bring to mind?