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The Christmas Slippers

By some small grace of frivolity, Mama has always believed Christmas gifts should not be practical.

It was the one time a year when one could ask for something a bit expensive and not feel bad for doing so.

Of course, she would often remind me,this did not mean I was going to get everything on my list, which included $100 Guess jeans, Members Only jackets, and 20 cassette tapes, mostly featuring Madonna.

“I am not buying you anything Madonna,” she would say, “Christmas or not.”

Outside of the Material Girl, Mama would try to get me the rest.

“You spoiling her,” Granny would protest. “When I was growing up, we got an orange. That’s what we got. Citrus. One a piece. You getting her britches that cost more than we spent on groceries in two months. Maybe three.”

Mama would ignore her, and gently state that times were different now and Christmas was supposed to be special.

My uncle, always looking for a way to play a prank on me, decided one year to give me the most practical gift of all: he wrapped a 24-roll pack of toilet paper, putting the biggest bow he could find on the package as he sat it under the tree.

“You will use this every day,” he promised.

“I will?” I asked, eyeing the big package.

“Oh, you will. And it will be something that you will be in a fix if you are ever without it.”

He laughed to the point of soundlessness when he saw my reaction as I peeled the paper back.

“You got me toilet paper!” I cried.

“It’s 2-ply and cushioned!” was his response.

“That’s a great gift,” Granny declared. “Wish I had thought of it!”

Mama shook her head. “Next year, give him a four pack of Dial and see how he likes it,” she suggested.

I did.

Problem was, he liked it.

While everyone else in our house was thrilled with packages of socks, toilet paper, and practical, everyday items presented in shiny paper and wrapped with a bow, Mama held fast to her belief that Christmas should be reserved for special gifts.

“Christmas is about Jesus, not about getting some ridiculously overpriced perfume,” Granny chastised one day.

“I know it is about Jesus, Mama,” my own mother said. “But even the wise men brought the baby frankincense and myrrh; not exactly practical gifts and quite pricey perfumes, if you ask me.”

Granny grunted. “You got a smart answer for everything, don’t you?”

Mama did.

And Mama believed in gifts that hailed Chanel, Lauder, and Lancome – and didn’t bat an eye when the sales person gave her the total.

“Mama, wouldn’t you like some poof?” she asked Granny one day. “It would be nice for you to have a pretty bottle sitting on your dresser.”

“Jean, I work in a sewing plant. What am I gonna do with some high falutin’ bottle of poof sitting around gathering dust? I ain’t gonna wear it.”

“You could wear it on Sundays.”

Granny frowned. “I ain’t gonna let you spend a lot of money on something I will wear one day a week. That’s foolishness. It will sour before I use it all.”

“No, it won’t,” Mama protested.

“It will, too. Don’t you get me any poof.”

“Then what do you want?” Mama asked.

“What ya mean?” Granny wasn’t used to someone asking her what she wanted. She was used to being given something and told to appreciate it because that was all she was going to get.

“What do you want for Christmas, Mama? I will get you whatever you want.”

Granny thought about this for a longtime. She needed a new stove but wouldn’t dare ask anyone else to get it for her.

She wanted a new fridge, but the old one was fine; she was old enough, she would say, for her wants not to hurt her.

After a day or two of ruminating over what would be an acceptable gift, she approached my Mama with her request.
“I want some bedroom slippers,” she said.

“Bedroom slippers?”

“Yep, bedroom slippers. I want the booty kind, so my feet will be warm all over, and I’d like them to be a pretty color. I ain’t never seen a red one but if they do, that’s what I’d like. If not, don’t get me no pink. I’d rather have blue.”

“Ok,” Mama replied.
“You got all that?” Granny asked unsure.
Mama nodded. “Yes, booty bedroom slippers, preferably red. If not, blue; no pink.”

“Good.”
“But Mama, why bedroom slippers?”

Granny sighed. “It’s the one thing I need and want, that I always forget to get for myself. And if I do, I feel bad spending too much on them. So, if you want to get me something all fancy, get me some fancy bedroom slippers.”

It was a practical gift, which Granny liked, but she felt like at Mama’s request, she could get the booty kind.

And for every year, until 2015, we got the old gal bedroom slippers.

I asked Mama the other day what she wanted for Christmas.
“Any makeup? Lancome? Some Chanel Mademoiselle?”

 “You know what I really want?”

“What?”

“Bedroom slippers,” she said. “The booty kind.”

And bedroom slippers she’s getting.

A Santa-less Christmas

A Santa-less Christmas

Spoiler alert: the following may cause some to doubt the existence of a certain yearly visitor who travels by sleigh and eats all your cookies.

Now, you’ve been warned.

No one warned me, though.

But suddenly, there was no mention of Santa.

The potential threat of telling my child Santa knew when he was sleeping, when he was awake, when he’d been bad or good no longer carried the weight it once had.

Maybe I should have known when my child stated that was “creepy” one year that something was changing.

In his younger years, I had a list to give Santa before the Halloween candy was gone.

Once, he found the note in the floorboard of my car, where it had fallen out of my bag. He was maybe four at the time and worried if he would get presents or not.

“But you didn’t mail it,” he said forlornly. “How will Santa know what I want?”

 “The magic of Christmas,” I said. “He knows already; he’s been watching, remember?”
Cole accepted this as truth, thinking there was indeed a Santa-vision screen in the North Pole, keeping the jolly old elf up to date on what everyone wanted.

One year, he wrote his list and gave it to the Santa on the square, not saying a word to anyone about what he wanted.

“What are we going to do?” I whispered to Lamar.

“I have no idea,” he said. “He said he was only telling the Big Guy what he wanted and no body else.”

When December 25th rolled around, Cole surveyed his loot and shook his head.
“Santa’s slipping; he didn’t get anything I asked for.”

We never knew what the child requested, but I think this may have been the beginning of the end.

“What happens to kids if they stop believing in Santa?” he asked randomly one summer.

It was 190 degrees and my hair was sweating. Why was my child worried about Christmas?

“They get underwear,” I told him.

“Oh,” was all he said.

A few days later, he brought the conversation back up.
“So, you really get underwear if you stop believing in Santa?” he asked.

“Yes.”

He nodded, slowly, thinking this through. He was wrestling with a decision or a plot and didn’t like the outcome of either.

“I think I will believe a little bit more,” he said.

Christmas came and went, and he seemed to still enjoy the moments of suspended disbelief, but I wondered if it was true or just for my sake.

Was it selfish for me to want him to continue to believe a little bit longer?

For him to be caught up in the magic of Christmas and the hope that miracles can and do exist – was it wrong for me to want him to hold on to that?

“Do you still believe?” he asked me one day a couple of years later.

“In what?”

“Santa.”

The question had caught me off guard as it was yet again, no where near Christmas.

I thought sincerely about his question, knowing this was it. This was probably when he was giving up the world of make-believe.

“Yes, I do,” I said.

“You really believe in Santa?”

“Yeah.”

He eyed me cautiously. “They say Santa was a real person that went around throwing toys in the windows of poor peoples homes, so their children could have Christmas,” he said. “But he doesn’t do that now, does he?”

“Maybe not him personally,” I said,choosing my words carefully. “But maybe it is someone carrying on the tradition. And I believe in the hope and magic of the season, where people do good for other people. I think that is what Santa,or Saint Nick, was supposed to be about.”

He considered this for a moment.

“If I stop believing, am I going to get underwear this year?” he asked.

“Maybe.”

He nodded.
And just like that, a few years ago, we shifted from talk of Santa to the practicality of present buying. Gone are the days of writing letters to Santa or leaving out milk and cookies, with carrots for the reindeer. It made me sad to think the days of magic and make-believe were behind us.

“What are you getting the baby for Christmas?” Mama asked.
Even though he is 14, he is and will always be, the baby.

“He needs a computer,” I said. “And underwear. Lots and lots of underwear.”

happy-valentines-day-wallpapers-41

Something shiny for his girl (2/11/2015)

I am not by any means a jewelry girl.

I prefer my funky costume jewelry and stones over anything fancy.

Lamar has tried buying me jewelry in the past and only once did he manage to find me something I actually liked.

“The girl at the counter picked it out,” he said.

His tastes and mine are very, very different when it comes to jewelry, and again, I am just not one who cares for jewelry.

“Daddy, what are you getting Mama for Valentine’s Day?” Cole asked a few weeks ago.

“They’re having that again?” Lamar joked, casting a look at me.

I rolled my eyes.

He is the world’s worst when it comes to Valentine’s Day – any holiday that involves buying a gift really – but Feb.14 should be renamed “Lamar’s Annual Near Death Experience Day.”

“Valentine’s Day is every year,” Cole replied solemnly.

Don’t joke about love with my child. He takes it very seriously.

“It’s OK, Cole,” I said. “If your father got me anything, I may fall out from the shock.”

“I got you a good card for your birthday,” was Lamar’s defense.

“Cole picked it out for you.”

He said nothing.

How could you refute the fact your 10-year-old was better at picking out cards than you were?

“What are you getting me?” he wanted to know.

I sighed. Our gift giving is often unbalanced because I will usually put some thought in it and get him something he wants or would like but won’t buy for himself.

Bicycle junk, neat pocket knives, other man-toy paraphernalia.

It is not a gift purchased out of a dreaded panic as he wanders down some aisle to get milk and realizes he was supposed to get me a gift for some occasion.

You know how gas stations sell those gaudy roses and weird little teddy bears holding one Hershey’s Kiss?

They started selling those for men like my husband.

Maybe it should be some consolation there are others just as horrid, but it’s not. It is disturbing. There are other women out there getting tacky, chintzy, nightmarish gifts.

“What are you getting me?” I asked back.

Lord, don’t let him do a load of laundry and tell me that’s my gift again.

I tell him if I have to fold and put it away, it’s not a gift.

“So, you don’t want clothes or linens for any gift then?” is his reply.

I give up. I am destined to either have no gifts or bad gifts. I am not sure what is worse.

The fact Lamar is a terrible gift giver concerns Cole. He wants everyone to have joy, happiness and love.

He also appreciates a well thought out gift.

We went to Walmart to get a few groceries later that day and Cole pulled his dad off to the other side of the store.

I figured Cole was taking him to see the newest Lego-Pokemon-Halo, whatever the latest new toy was, and knew he still had a little Christmas money left over he had been wanting to spend.

As I was checking the expiration date on some Chobani, Cole ran up, beaming widely.

“Happy Valentine’s Day early!” he exclaimed, thrusting a box in my hand.

“What is it?” I asked, opening the box.

Inside was a thin gold chain. I couldn’t tell if it held a locket or was just a chain, but it was lovely.

“It’s beautiful! Can I put a pendant on it?”

Cole looked crestfallen. “You don’t like it, do you?”

“Yes, I do!” I said.

I am not as expression-able about things as he is, and I wasn’t expecting a gift in the middle of the dairy department. But my child is a hopeless romantic and believes in giving gifts, even if Greek yogurt is involved.

“I love it, Cole,” I said, trying to reassure him.

He didn’t believe me for some reason.

I didn’t want to put it on in the store – I was scared I wouldn’t catch the latch properly and would lose it, so I waited to put it on at home.

It was beautiful. Just a simple gold chain that wasn’t too long, but hit at my collar bone, giving just a hint of shimmer. It was not a chain I would put a pendant on, but one that was just a simple, lovely, delicate chain. I loved it.

“Cole, this is beautiful,” I told him.

“Do you really like it?” he asked. “I have the receipt. I didn’t have enough money and had to borrow some from Daddy. I can take it back if you want me to.”

“Absolutely not, I love this.”

“You love it just because it’s from me, right?”

“No, I love this. It’s a lovely, simple gold chain. I needed a gold chain; all my other jewelry is silver.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

Absolutely, I was. It was perfect.

“I can do some more chores here and get more money to get you something nicer,” he said.

“Cole, baby, this is beautiful and perfect. I don’t want you spending your money on me if you feel like it’s not enough – when it is more than enough! I love it. What made you think you had to get me something?”

He sighed. “Because, I know Daddy does a bad job with getting gifts, and I know it disappoints you. You don’t get upset, because you aren’t expecting anything from Daddy. I wanted to get you something nice…something shiny and pretty. You deserve something shiny. ”

I smiled.

Oh, bless his heart.

He was trying to make up for his daddy’s terrible gifts or lack of gifts in general.

I don’t know if that’s even possible, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him that.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16078/