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Old 06-30-2008, 10:36 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Kingwood
Default Christmas at Mama's

John Shelley

Christmas is one of those holidays that always seem to be steeped in tradition. It can be different for everyone, but most families have their own way of doing it. No one seems to know why we do it this way or that way, we just know this is the way we do it.

As children grow up and go their separate ways, it adds challenges to maintaining the ritual but for my family, we always seem to find a way to have Christmas at Mamaís. Of course Dad is there too, but let there be no mistake about it Ė Mama runs Christmas!

No one in my family makes plans for Christmas until they check with Mama. Mama sets the date and December 25th really doesnít have anything to do with it if it ainít convenient for Mama! Mama sets the time for Christmas dinner too. 12:00 is only a mark on the clock and really doesnít have a thing to do with when dinner will be served. The determining factor for that is whenever the turkey gets done!

On the appointed day (usually sometime in late December), the family starts to gather at Mamaís for Christmas. A whole array of excuses is used by everyone every year as to why they are so late. Truth is, we put it off as long as we can. Our family is scattered all about Texas but my brother, who lives only 4 blocks away, always seems to be the last to arrive. Thatís because he hogs up all the good excuses!

No matter how I try not to be, Iím usually the first to arrive. That means I get to be the first to hear of all Mamaís new ailments. Not only do I get to hear about them first, I get to hear about them again and again as more family arrives. And it gets worse as the day goes on. What starts out as a runny nose in the morning, turns into full fledged pneumonia by the time the last relative arrives. My brother thinks she is dying!

Time has taken its toll and there arenít as many aunts and uncles as there used to be, but I always enjoy seeing those who make it to dinner. Sometimes they get into the house without me seeing them and I am only made aware of their arrival by what I see on the dinner table. I can tell you each and every person in the house by the dishes on the table. They always bring the same stuff every year.

Each person is charged with bringing a specific dish but nobody better get any ideas about bringing any turkey and dressing or egg custard pies! Thatís Mamaís department. Even with her body ravaged by pneumonia, Mama always prepares those dishes.

And Mama has pets at her house too. Lots of pets! No one knows exactly how many cats Mama has, but only a few dozen of them live in the house. Mama also has a fat dog with lots of hair, so much hair in fact, that we can only tell which end is which by the direction the dog happens to be moving.

As you might expect, some of this dog and cat hair inevitably finds its way into the food and onto the furniture. You might have to endure a couple of helpings of dog hair dressing and cat hair pie, but everyone that comes to Mamaís for Christmas leaves with a new fur coat. Especially if theyíre wearing black!

The tradition of the saying of grace seems to always fall to me. Iím not sure why that has become my job? Maybe itís because I am the oldest child? Maybe itís because I know some big Bible words? Personally, I think itís because I donít go to church as often as Mama believes I should and she thinks that if I am the one to say grace, God will remember my name and let me into heaven!

Once dinner is finished and we all cough up the hairballs, we move into the over crowded living room to exchange gifts and get our new fur coats. One of Mamaís traditions is to give money for our main Christmas gift. Now, I like that tradition just fine. Itís always the right color, always the right size and never needs to be returned or exchanged. But just as we can always count on getting money as our main gift, we can also always count on getting some sort of worthless trinket! I still havenít found a practical use for the wrist watch walkie-talkies or the little monkey made from socks, but I suppose itís the thought that counts.

I guess Mama will be gone one of these days and Christmas wonít be the same, and then itíll be my job to carry on the Christmas traditions at my own home, with my own family. Hey kids, have I told you about this pain in my back? And pass me another helping of that dog hair dressing!
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