Is it the 10th or 11th?

Where are we in the 12th day of Christmas?  Does the song end on Christmas or on Christmas Eve?  Seriously I don’t know.  But I do know today is the 23rd.

We have the tree up!  Hale picked it out on Tuesday evening.  It’s a beauty, a 6′ Douglas fir.  We went to decorate it only to discover Friday evening that our lights gave out on us.  I went to get new lights yesterday to then only discover that we had no hooks for ornaments.  Give us a break please.  It’s been two years since putting up a tree.  Last year we had a poinsetta because we spent the holiday away from home – our first.

The tree certainly brings back memories.  It is the tree that clears the fog of Christmas’ past.  There were times where we had plenty and times where we didn’t.  And many Christmas’ where there are no memories.  If you’re a child from a broken home I think you can follow me here – not to be a downer.  You can remember all the family times like trips, barbeque, playing football in the front yard, the holidays at your grandparents… You also remember the void.

My parents divorced when I was in third grade.  I don’t know how Mom kept us alive but she did it.  My grandparents where there supporting us.  My older brother lived with them.  I lived with Mom.  Even though the family holidays are vague in my mind, recalled only through pictures, I tend to think of those this time of year more than others.  This is probably the first and foremost reason we celebrate Christmas in our house.  It’s not because of our faith but because we want our children to have the memories and know we were there together.

There have been some good ones over the years.  There was the one year where Taylor snuck down the stairs to rearrange Santa so that she came out on top of her sister.  She sternly denied it and was absolutely puzzled on how we knew.  Santa brought a bunk-bed for the kids one year and you would have thought they had hit the lottery.  They were absolutely happy with that.  The one consistent memory from Virginia is the kids waking at the crack of dawn to sneak downstairs to see the loot.  Every year I remember laying in bed listening to their whispers before they would scramble back up exclaiming us to rise out of bed to get the day started.

I recall the wonderous holidays at Lazy Acres, Alabama.  If there’s ever a picture perfect holiday scene it was at Lazy Acres.  My grandfather, aka Paw-Paw, would drive out on the farm and find a monstrous cedar tree for the great room.  There would be presents as far as the eye could see.  Mason Morgan’s in Hartselle loved to see my grandmother, aka Mim-Maw, walk in that store each year for it meant they would go into the black.  Paw-Paw would always have a gadget he would give and most of the time it would be a bracelet, pocket knife, or Alabama something or other.  Mim-Maw worked her rear-end off in the kitchen to produce vittles that Cracker-Barrel only dreams about making.

One year we visited the Feary clan in New Hampshire.  I only remember that because the Feary’s haven’t let me forget, thank God!  When you talk about a void it is certainly knowing and being able to build fond memories of the Feary’s.  I’m somewhat envious of my cousin who had the chance to visit Grandmother Feary each summer growing up.  I never did.  But the end to this story is that we’ve had that opportunity later in life and I’ve come to understand some of my heritage by speaking with her.

At any rate that Christmas in New Hampshire was one for the record books.  There was tons of snow.  We went sledding.  The Volkswagon bus got stuck in a snow bank.  It was a grand occasion.  The picture here is yours truly in my Aunt’s living room…

UPDATE 10/25/2008:  I’m not certain why I never finished this post.  Guess I was in the middle of it, couldn’t figure out where to find the old photo and forgot to come back to it.  Never the less I have discovered this unpublished story and have chosen to publish with the photo.  Maybe we’ll get around to finishing it this holiday season.  Enjoy!

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