|Cody & I, 2002|
Every holiday for me is somehow memorable. There are moments inside of each of them that stain the synapses. Although if I had to choose my Most Memorable Holidays in all of the Christmases in my entire life to write about I suppose it would have to be my son Cody and I’s first Christmas in our first home.
He was four when we had finally gotten a place for ourselves. It was just this small apartment in a black hole town in northern Missouri. Thankfully they were the newer homes for assisted families and the lessors were so nice that they had given us a couch and a love seat since we had no furniture to speak of. A few boxes of clothes, toys and a computer. We were so happy, though, to have our first home. With the help of friends and family it was made into a nice place come winter and with my meager $6.50hr job I was able to afford a 4ft tree. However, being out in the middle of no where without a car and barely any pennies to scrape by with there wasn’t any money to get decorations. We would just sit and stare at our tree and I would come up with excuses of why it wasn’t decorated yet and then one day I finally caved and went and got a food card. I was a stubborn person then and it was hard enough to get assistance for a house let alone to ask for food, but we could only eat so much poor mans pasta.
When the food card came in I about fell over in shock. Since I had never asked for help before I had no idea what to expect and since we were just starting out they had put $400 in food on the card. I had no idea what to do with that much food money. Then an idea came to me! I realized that you could buy candy on a food card and so while Cody was at Daycare I ran over to the IGA and bought out all the chocolate Hershey decorations, any other candy decorations I could find and lots of popcorn. (Of course we bought food for the house AND a Christmas dinner.) I came home and unpacked my load of goodies and set to work. I decorated the whole tree in chocolate and peppermints and popped enormous bowls of popcorn and after picking him up from the Daycare we set about laughing for hours stringing all the popcorn for a 4ft tree.
It was probably our smallest Christmas. There was no way to get to any stores except to the Dollar Store and the Casey’s I worked at sold movies and some fun little things here and there that I could pick up. Sometimes the IGA would have books or a few toys but outside of that there wasn’t much. Since we were so poor I would get a little inventive by shopping at the Antique Stores in town and of course his stocking was loaded because of the food card. But despite how small it was it was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had in my life. My family pulled together and sent their gifts for our teeny tree and they all said, “From Santa.” So amongst the few things I could get there were others, all from Santa and it was the year I decided Santa was okay because at least then he wouldn’t have to see that things were so bad. He woke up that morning bursting with joy and it took us weeks to eat all the chocolate off that tree. My only regret in regards to this Christmas was that I didn’t have a camera to capture his face innocently smiling with pride at his popcorn string as he put it on the tree and the paper star he cut and colored for the tippy top, but I guess all that matters is that it’s here inside of me.
Sometimes the best things in life come out of the hardest times. Sometimes the best Holidays are the ones kept small…….. and simple.