At home, we never had a store-bought tree. Actually, I don't know any home that had a commercial tree. Since we lived in a pine tree jungle, we just went down in the woods, chopped down the greenest, most shapely and prettiest tree that we saw and dragged it home. When I look at all the ornaments in my personal collection, it's laughable, because then, I don't think I ever saw a real ornament. At any rate, all we had to put on our tree was cotton. That's right. the same cotton that we picked during cotton-pickin' harvest. But by the time we pulled and fluffed it all out, it made our simple green tree white with "snow." Wow! What fun memories.
My parents believed in Santa Claus, and I'll tell you about him later. Sometimes during the week, my Mother and grandmothers baked homemade cakes and pies to make our dinner complete. Our dinner wasn't formal or anything like that, but my maternal grandmother did "set" a delicious and pleasing-to-the-eyes buffet spread with the best of her "smoke house" reserves.
Christmas was the only time that us kids got anything close to toys. Usually my sisters and I got smaller than average size dolls - sometimes not the ones we longed for - and even though some were almost too small to hold in our arms, it was okay. Our little babies were store-bought and better than nothing. My brothers usually got small cars and trucks that they drove around on the rough, wooden, floor highway until they tore them up. The little inexpensive toys and play things that we got probably lasted through January. They may have lasted a little longer, but it's not likely that they did.
This was a day that the entire family dressed up in our finest Sunday clothes, went to church and to visit our grandparents. It was a day filled with fun times and special activities. Most of all, though, we were glad that our parents were awake (on Christmas Eve). In my sweet dreams, I saw them help Santa with his over-sized belly struggle down the stove-pipe chimney with his bag of toys. He didn't find any milk and cookies at our house, and even though we kids had been more naughty than nice, he still left us goodies that made our Christmas more merry than not.
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