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Friday, November 27, 2015


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?


  1. That's sweet and sad. I sold my blood for quite a while, too. What do I remember about Christmas? It was always a big group of people because I come from a large family, so my siblings and, later on, their spouses were there. I remember Mother cooking a lot, and especially baking cookies. We had scads of Norwegian cookies, made with a ton of butter. What do the memories and carols of Christmas bring to my mind? I'm glad I don't have to be in a crowd of people, with my mom angry because she thought HAD to do everything. Everyone would have been happy with pizza. One of my favorite memories is the year I received a doll named Pretty Peaches, and she had a blue baby carriage. I loved my dolls and played with them for hours.


    1. Mother used to jokingly say she learned from her mistakes so that is why she had only one child! :-)

      It actually stemmed from a surgery gone wrong, but Mother always loved to joke instead of showing her pain.

      Now, it is much harder to sell your blood. It sounds like your holidays were quite crowded! Sad that your mother couldn't slow down and enjoy her family during the holidays. :-(

      My first teddy bear was Cubbie who had all his fur loved off him, and his arms and legs were darned in my baby's socks. I kept him in my treasure chest until my home burned.

      Pretty Peaches, huh? A lovely name. :-)

    2. Pretty Peaches is the only one of my dolls I still have. My mom sold everything else at garage sales. When we moved to the "big city," and she saw people having garage sales, she went garage sale crazy. She took my stuffed animals and most of my toys away from me, along with the dolls my older sisters no longer played with, and sold them. Later she said she knew she shouldn't have done it.

    3. Sometimes parents are swayed by the attraction of easy money over the preciousness of memories. Some things once done cannot be undone. Sigh. At least you still have Pretty Peaches. :-)

  2. Hi Roland - my childhood wasn't tough, yet it wasn't easy - especially for my parents ... but we were loved. My parents grew a lot of our food, had chickens etc so we didn't go short. There were mistakes ... but it was after the War and times were difficult - mentally as well. I have never tried to sell my blood - but they didn't want it when I came back from South Africa - I might have had Aids - logical in some ways, but really irritated me! I gave up at that point. Now the blood is too a-g-e-d! All the best - Hilary

    1. The years of the war and right after were certainly grim ones for England from what I understand -- and every childhood has its black seasons.

      And you're right: love is a balm that heals a great many wounds. :-)

  3. I forgot to add .. Love does say it all .. that is so so true.

  4. The sacrifices of a parent can never be appreciated as well as they are when you are older. I can see why poverty did not make you bitter. Your mother gave you another gift.

    I did not have as painful a Christmas but we did have some Charlie Brown Christmas trees. We always cut one down from an abandoned lot. My parents did give what they had. Of my siblings, I got the most hope and my life has been better for it. That bitterness is a lifelong monster that eats it's victim alive.

    1. You're right: bitterness is like swallowing rat poison and expecting the rat to die! Most Christmases for most children have thorns hidden among the roses. I am glad your parents and your siblings were there for you. :-)

  5. My mother did a lot of scrimping and saving to make our Christmas times special. My dad didn't care and sometimes even refused to give her money to spend on the kids, spending it on himself for a new adult toy (car or motorcycle. . .) She never said anything, but I learned later in life from another relative. What we lacked in father love was made up by Mother love.

    1. As with me ... my biological father was ... well, it is the Christmas Season so I will be silent. May your Christmas bring healing and happiness to you and yours. :-)