Growing up, I always looked forward to Christmas. I suppose that’s not unusual for most kids though. Around our house, it was just my Mother, my two sisters, and myself. No dad, a story best left untold.

Mama worked hard to provide for my siblings and me, sometimes to her own detriment. I can say that we always had everything we needed. There was always food to eat and our clothes were always clean and neat. We even got some of the things we wanted. Not everything though.

Mama rarely bought anything for herself. A woman raising three kids alone, with only a high school education, it was a grind for her, had to be, but she never complained. We didn’t think of it at the time, kids you know, but we were never lacking in the important things.

Our home, the one in which I now live, was a small shotgun house, three rooms. Living room, one bedroom, the kitchen. We had running water, but our first bathroom was that little building in the back of the property.

As we grew, in addition to the essentials, Mama paid for the house, added two rooms and a bath, built porches front and rear, and two cars as well. All on a single salary, no help from “dear old dad.”

Christmas was a fun time for the four of us. One of the things we did together was sit before the fireplace at night, sharing fruit and nuts while we talked and watched television. One favorite treat was an orange rolled a lot to break it up a bit, then Mama would cut a hole in the end and poke in a stick of peppermint candy, the porous type. We loved squeezing juice up through that candy.

Santa Claus, when we were small, was a lot of fun. I remember one year being worried that, not being asleep when I though I heard reindeer hooves on the roof, he might not stop. Mama reassured me and I went on to sleep, waking early, as always, to rush into that front room to see what was left. I never could figure how he got down that small chimney.

I wasn’t disappointed to learn the truth when I got older. On that note, Mama’s youngest brother and my aunt always refused to play Santa with their children, not wanting to “lie” to them. I always believed my cousins missed something with that attitude.

Everyone out there have a nice Christmas!