Christmas time on the farm in Indiana with 8 kids was a gleeful romp through barely organized chaos. Wrapping paper, which started out neatly opened at the edges so mom could save it for next year, ended up as a knee-deep lake of crumpled bright colors. Kids would dive in to retrieve presents that were barely looked at because the secret behind a sibling’s present was still unrevealed. Now these presents were absorbed with an honest intensity that would rival an engineer solving a space shuttle problem. Christmas time.
Mom and dad would “Oooh” and “Ahhh” over pencils, pens, scratch pads, a gallon of perfume shaped like a golf club, colored glass shaped like jewelry, and candy bars. I don’t want you to get the impression that we were poor on the farm because my parents provided for us very well, but some Christmases they had to get a little more “creative” than others.
We would get the obligatory underwear and socks and always the family game of that year. Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble, Boggle, Life, Operation, Mastermind, and finally the first TV computer game: Pong.
One year my mom sewed together a particularly memorable Christmas by purchasing a bolt of leopard print fabric. With that bolt she fastened a plethora of leopard print housecoats. I could say that each stitch was sewed with love, each saw-toothed cut lovingly formed small arms and collars to caress her adoring children … I could say that … but I won’t. Looking back I have to believe that mom had a smirk on her face as she found the bolt and checked out at the fabric store. I have to believe that mom smiled when she sewed as if she held a barely kept secret. I have to believe that she and dad snickered about it in bed the night before. I have to believe that she couldn’t contain the laugh. The laugh that came when she pictured the kids with leopard capes of superpower, flying through the house wearing only their new Hanes and the “Leopard Coat of Mystery!” Books and toys were forgotten as impersonations of wild, African cats roamed the living room.
Well, keep smiling mom you earned it. And joy is what Christmas is all about.