In which my mother’s mother reminisces about Christmas with my grandfather and Santa Claus innocence lost:
How did you all celebrate Christmas? Did you get a tree and all that or what did you do?
Ohhh, Daddy was Christmas crazy. He was Christmas crazy, honey. He would buy everything in the world he could afford. And fruitcake. We would make fruitcake. He would help me stir ‘em and cook ‘em, and one time we made some and it didn’t look dark like fruitcake usually is, and I said I wonder why … He said, “Well, I tell you what, let’s put some cocoa in it to make it dark.” [Laughs.] And he used to stir ‘em for me, stir the cake for me and beat the eggs. The batter. He was a better cook than I was. He really taught me to cook.
What about Christmas when you were a child? When you were little?
We had nice Christmases. Walker and Golar and Mat were older than we were, and they used to have to pass through our room some kind of way to get to the front. When they’d come home, when they’d come in the back porch, they would have to pass through that room. And I was a big girl and should have had more sense. But they passed through there, and — I thought Santa Claus brought oranges and apples and everything else. And they thought that we were asleep. They came through our room for something, and they thought that we were asleep, and my brother said, “Did you bring the oranges out the car?” And I mean it just upset me so bad, I didn’t know what in the world to do because I thought Santa Claus was in the morning and everything else. “Did you get the oranges out the car?” Boy, that took care of my Christmas. I don’t know how old I was either, but it never excited me anymore after that. And we used to give gifts – everybody got a gift. I mean, it wouldn’t be anything. A pair of socks or something, but we would wrap all the gifts and things. And our bedroom had a grate in it. You know what a grate is?
Like in the floor?
No, no, no. In the fireplace. It had a grate and invariably we would fire this grate for New Year’s during the holidays, you know. And when Mama and Golar would go – why they had to go all the way to town at the last, you know. Now, it gets dark now. They didn’t stay all that long, but I would be so frightened. I would just be so frightened while they were gone. And we used to have to always have oyster stew on New Year’s night, and that’s what we used to be waiting for. For Mama to come back and bring the oysters for the stew, and the oysters were clean before we went to bed.
No photos or other artifacts exist from my mother’s or grandmother’s childhood Christmases. Plenty do from mine, however, including these fine verses:
Interviews of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.