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Christmas: Childhood Memories
12/24/2013 3:03:41 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

This morning when I woke up, my brain kicked into rewind mode and took me down memory lane. Normally, I operate in fast forward mode. It’s not often that I have time to look back on my journey.

I am always running full speed ahead. I don’t know whether the advent of Christmas had anything to do with my nostalgia but I woke up thinking of the aroma of mom’s ginger bread cake and the red striped candy canes she used as decorations. I thought about the little red wagon full of fruits that Santa left behind to be shared by three siblings and me.

It was sometimes between the red wagon and skates that I found out who Santa really was. My Santa Claus was really a black man. I couldn’t believe it. I had seen so many pictures of Santa with the curly white hair and a beard; I couldn’t believe they would send a Black Santa to drop my stuff off.

I remember asking Santa how was it possible for him to travel the entire world and drop of toys and gifts all in one night. Santa looked a little dumbfounded. Not only did I catch Santa in the act of dropping off my little red wagon, I may have caught him in a fib. Oh, don’t y’all worry about me distorting the children’s image of Santa. If they can read this article, they already know who Santa is.

I don’t know about y’all but I had a tough time falling to sleep on Christmas Eve.

My parents would tuck me in and caution me to close my eyes really tight and go to sleep because Santa would not come as long as I was awake. I also remember them threatening to put salt in my eyes if I didn’t fall asleep early.

Curiosity wasn’t just bad for the cat, but my curiosity almost got the best of me. I remember trying to peep out of one eye for Santa. It was time he revealed himself. I had a few questions for him. Was I going to get what was on my list? Would he make it to my house? It was getting late. I could tell by the fog covered street lights.

So, with one eye opened, I saw Santa come out of my parents’ room. I pretended that I was asleep. I am thinking what in the world is this guy doing in my parents’ room. How did he get in there? I sure did not see him go past my room. I must have fallen asleep. There is just no way Santa could have gotten pass me, no way.

I thought about waking my brothers up to let them know that Santa was in the house but I feared my parents would make good on their threat to put salt in my eyes. I also thought about not being able to ride in the wagon. I decided not to tell my brothers who Santa was. Perhaps they knew; but they weren’t going to hear it from me.

So, why am I thinking of yesteryear’s Christmas? I miss the house hopping on Christmas Eve to help my friends wrap their children’s presents, assemble toys and place them under the tree once they were tucked into bed.

I miss the eggnog with a little toddy. The little child that once played peep-a-boo with Santa grew up and preserved the legend for future generations by not ratting out his identity.

The little child grew up and never forgot who Santa is. While Santa may have been a figment of her imagination, in her child’s mind it was the anticipation and excitement of new toys and gifts that were few and far in between growing up poor.

Coming from a family of six and living below the poverty line, she knew poor was just a transitional condition in her home and not a permanent state of being. She never looked poor, dressed poor or acted poor; no, she was one of John and Lucille’s “chern”.

The little child grew up to the reality of Christmas. That little child was me.

Christmas is not about Santa Claus and greedy merchants, it’s about Christ. That’s right! remember the reason for the season. Let’s not leave Christ out of Christmas.

It’s like leaving you out of your birthday. There is nothing wrong with gift giving but do not sensationalize Santa and leave Christ out of Christmas.

Joy to the world, it’s Christ Day!

Merry Christ Day to all and to all y’all, be safe and sleep tight!

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