My Mom was big on all the rituals that went with religion, but not so much taken with that whole going to church business. It was not uncommon in my household to have a Christmas tree in one corner and a little statue of Buddha or Confucius with a bit of incense burning in front of him in the other. She talked fondly of Catholicism and Judaism, though she was a proclaimed Southern Baptist. I found it best to stay away from all religions all together.
But I was always fond of digging out those blown glass Christmas ornaments and wrapping the tree up in tinsel and lights. And yes, we did have a few of those old strings of lights that if one bulb was out, they were all out. We also had a string of bubble lights, which were outlawed for a while for some reason. Maybe the idea of a glass tube filled with water, electricity, and a dry tree had something to do with it. They were very pretty though.
I grew with two brothers and one sister living in the house. My Mom was there and Dear Old Dad would often drop by at Christmas to leave me and my younger brother whatever odd things he found to give us for Christmas. My older brother and sister were only half-siblings, though I never thought of them as such when I was a kid. Dear Old Dad did though-so his kids got the benefits of his gifts.
Dad was an odd fellow. He never seemed to know how old either of us were, so we would get little kid toys when were were too old for them and adult sized bicycles when we were little kids. One time he brought in a box fun of shoes. Mostly two-tone Oxfords that would have looked good with a zoot suit. There must have been a couple of dozen pairs of shoes, none of which fit us. Another time he bought some coats from an embroidery store-these were special orders that were never picked up. These were flight jackets that said things 42rd Airborne or were covered with patches. Now these were cool. Except for one that said Dave’s Girl across the back. Image a 7th grade boy wearing a coat that says Dave’s Girl. The jackets were all three sizes too big for us. Except for the one that said Dave’s Girl, of course.
But it wasn’t all bad with Mom and Dad, they did the best they could. Mom always made sure there were lots of presents under the tree, which is still a fond memory. There were some great gifts, including a trick camera that had a lens with selective focus and a set of props to make goofy portraits. Dad made the best, and I mean, The Best Tamales I have ever eaten in my life. Oh I have had some that come close, but none as good as Dads. If the only tamales you know are those sad little things that come in a can, I can only pity you.
Mom and Dad are both dead now, gone these many years. My Christmas memories of the two of them from my childhood are about my only memories of them being together. They were not a happy couple, and they were not that happy individually, either. Which may explain my own leanings toward the dark side. But I do miss them once in a while.