My Forever Christmas Decoration
- an exclusive by Noella Designs -
Twilight was falling on a snowy Christmas eve as my parents and I strolled "downtown" to enjoy the glowing Christmas lights that decorated the local businesses. Brooklyn was a small town in the southern region of Maryland. Lining both sides of Main Street among lots of "mom & pop" stores you could find a pharmacy with the best chocolate cokes, a theater with real buttered popcorn and a doctor who made house calls.
Mom and Dad always struggled to make ends meet. At the end of a hard week of work, Dad never failed to hand his paycheck to Mom who budgeted every dime, nickel and penny for food and rent. She once bought a week's worth of groceries for my grandmother for only $3.00.
But even as they pinched pennies to make sure I had food in my belly and a warm bed to sleep in, there was always a penny for the gum machine. This zest for fun and their appreciation for the simple joys made certain that I never had a sense of the struggle during those early years.
The snow was beginning to come down in waves. And even though Mom lovingly wrapped me in a warm coat, a knitted hat on my head and mittens on my hands, it was one of those typical Maryland winter nights with the whipping frigid wind blasting up my coat sleeves and down past my collar. I shivered.
But with one hand wrapped in my Dad's strong hand and the other in Mom's gentle hand, I felt so loved and protected that I soon forgot about the cold and just enjoyed the walk.
As we crossed Main Street to get closer to the hardware store's light display, a stream of slushy, melting snow rushed down the concrete gutter. Suddenly, Mom stopped and said “Wait a minute” and walked back to the gutter. She removed one of her gloves and reached into the rushing water. Her eyes lit up as she shook off two dripping wet items.
“What is it?" I asked loudly.
“Shhh,” she whispered as she stuffed two very wet dollar bills into her pocket.
We continued our path down the snow-covered sidewalk. For a few minutes, no one spoke. I got the feeling my parents didn’t want to alert anybody to the treasure they had just found.
In that dreamlike world, the town's Christmas lights seemed to glitter just for us as we looked at the twinkling window displays. The flashing overhead lights and bright wreaths that hung from one side of the street to the other shown more brightly than ever before. It felt “magical”...as though my Mom, Dad, and I were suspended in a bubble of love, and pure happiness.
We paused in front of the hardware store’s flashing window.
“Isn’t that pretty,” Mom said, pointing to a group of plastic wall decorations shaped like trees, sleighs, stars, and a whole bunch of Santas.
“You want to go in?” Dad asked.
And so we did.
The three of us quietly entered the store; the old wood floor creaked in unison to the sloshing of our wet rubber boots. We made our way to the glowing Christmas decorations displayed for sale at the back of the store.
We stood before the sleighs, the trees, and the wonderful Santas.
“Look at that one,” I said excitedly, gazing in wonder at a particularly big and bright tree. “And that, look at that!” I exclaimed, looking at one of the smaller Santas. He seemed to be looking back at me. But that’s impossible I thought. In my heart, I wished I could have one of the Santas. We could take him home and put him up on the wall just like the hardware store had done. He was bright enough to light the whole house up, I giggled to myself.
Suddenly, Dad appeared with a salesman in tow. “We want one of these wall decorations.” And then my Dad knelt down in front of me and asked, “Which one do you want?”
My eyes must have grown three times their size, because I didn’t expect this at all.
“Which one?” Dad repeated.
My eyes went to the smaller Santa. “The small Santa?" Mom asked.
I shook my head in the affirmative.
“What about one of the bigger Santa heads?” the salesman cajoled. “They are our most popular.”
“No," I shook my head from side to side. "I want him,” I decidedly pointed to the smaller Santa again.
It was then that I saw Mom reach into her pocket and draw out those two, still drenched dollar bills. She nudged my Dad and handed them to him.
"Here you go," my Dad said as he handed the money to the happy salesman.
With the Santa in his box and wrapped in brown paper, we headed home with our treasure.
I spent many a Christmas eve during my childhood staring at my special Santa.
Nearly seventy years later, that Santa still hangs from my wall during the Christmas Holidays. He may be a little faded now, but every time I look at Santa’s smiling face and twinkling eyes I remember the night we took a walk in the snow. Today, the two dollars Mom found that Christmas Eve have become a loving memory that will last in my heart forever.
May all have a Merry Christmas!