Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Past

My mother has been gone for over seven years, yet I woke up at four this morning thinking about all the wonderful Christmases we shared when I was a child. We didn't have much, but we had love and fun and time together.

My mother raised me alone. My father, the sperm donor, left the family before I was a year old. I spent many of my formative years in a house filled with women: a grandmother, an aunt, a mother, and me.

As Christmas grew closer, the bestest odors came from the kitchen. Mother made terrific tollhouse cookies. She wasn't fancy. She just used the recipe on the back of the Nestle chocolate chip package. She let me eat a little bit of raw cookie dough. We didn't know it was bad for us. So far, it hasn't killed me. Grandmother made peanut butter and oatmeal cookies. I got to press the fork on the peanut butter balls to flatten them and put the criss-cross pattern on them. My aunt baked pies -- apple, pumpkin and cherry. Nothing was low fat.

On Christmas day, my aunt and mother would get up at three in the morning to put the turkey in. My mother always received a turkey from her boss, and it was the biggest damned bird you ever saw. Eventually, the cooks would make stuffing, sweet potato casserole, fresh vegetables (I confess. To this day, I have never had green bean casserole.), creamed peas and onions, tomato aspic. Without all of these foods, it wouldn't have been Christmas. Add pickles and olives on toothpicks stuck in a ceramic rooster and canned cranberry jelly and the table was ready.

With all these aromas floating in the air, what do you think is my favorite Christmas smell?

New crayons. I get a box of new Crayolas every year, along with coloring books. To this day, a box of Crayolas takes me back to Christmas mornings when I was a little kid.

I miss my mother, today as much as any other day. I'd walk a thousand miles to open one more Crayola box from her. I miss you, Mini Mommy.