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Carol Perkins: That one special gift from Santa Claus

'The more I talk to people and listen to their memories, the more I realize that we all share the same ones. The characters are different but the scenes are much the same. What we all have in common is the knowledge that nothing is better than Christmas in the country. That is why I live among the pines, the oaks, and the wild turkeys and deer playing in my yard.' - CAROL PERKINS
The next earlier column: Carol Perkins: Working with Santa Claus Posted Sunday, December 22, 2013

The cookies will soon be left by the tree and children will try to sleep but with great difficulty. They will hear sounds on the roof that must be more than the wind. Morning will not come soon enough for them, but with so much to do before it arrives, Mom and Dad hope for a few more hours.


Santa doesn't have time to put things together, so Mom and Dad sit under the tree in the dimly lit room and assemble bicycles or doll cribs or drum sets. By morning, they drag out of bed to see the faces that glow in the light of dawn. Does the scene ever change? It hasn't in my lifetime except the tree is artificial and the gifts are put together by people hired to put things together and most things now come with a UBS cord.

My friend Susan and I were invited to "entertain" at the Cumberland Co. Chamber of Commerce Banquet Monday and our entertainment consists of talking about Christmases when we were young and the feeling no other time of the year creates. We can always see from the nods and the smiles that those in the audience remember just as we do. The younger ones may not fully comprehend our stories, but they will lean over to the person sitting next to them and ask.

We talked about gifts. Susan recalled that she received one gift from Santa, but the anticipation of that gift caused her to toss and turn all night. "I knew when I heard my grandfather in the kitchen preparing to boil the coffee on the stove that I could get up. It was around 4:30 in the morning," she said.

My greatest gift was always a doll. Other gifts were special, but my dolls were the best gifts of all. I still have my Gerber baby doll. One lady in the audience recalled having a doll that said "Mama" when leaned back and forth. I think about my mother and father sitting under the tree putting together a doll house for me (metal with tabs) and the train set for my brother and how long ago that has been.

We also talked about snow and how we never lacked for "big" snow when we were young (and young adults).

Susan and I were both teaching in 1976 when a monster snowstorm hit the county, closing schools for over a month. We had to make up those days, of course, and did so by extending the day one hour for several months and having classes on Saturday. Looking back now, that was a wonderful time.

We were snowed in and that meant playing games together, sleigh riding, making snowmen, and eating snow ice cream. We had TIME to enjoy each other and after a few days we longed for friends, so we walked to the houses of neighbors and played cards while children played dolls and trucks and cars. The town was quiet because stores were closed except for grocery stores and gas stations and drug stores. As the snow plows pushed the snow to the sides of the road, the town tried to come alive but not many of us could get out of our driveways. Susan lived close enough to town to walk, so one day she did.

"I had done everything inside the house I could think to do, so I bundled up and headed over the hill to town. By the time I got to the square the hair in my nose had frozen," she told the group at the banquet.

The more I talk to people and listen to their memories, the more I realize that we all share the same ones. The characters are different but the scenes are much the same. What we all have in common is the knowledge that nothing is better than Christmas in the country. That is why I live among the pines, the oaks, and the wild turkeys and deer playing in my yard.

Merry Christmas and keep the spirit of Christmas all year 'round. - CAROL PERKINS


This story was posted on 2013-12-22 05:18:17
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