Down East 2013 ©
Christmas Eve, what did you leave out for Santa? Cookies? A sandwich? I love hearing people’s answer to that question. Chocolate? Or even better, what did you feed Santa’s reindeer? Carrots? Apples? When Dot’s husband Tommy was a kid, they’d leave out dog food, which I think is kind of weird. I mean, these reindeer are magical beings! They can fly, for God’s sake!
One year, when Betty’s kids were small, they left Santa a glass of milk and some cookies. After the kids went to bed, Betty and Pat were so busy putting together a new train set, they forgot to put away Santa’s treat. The next morning, they discovered that their dog Daisy had eaten the cookies and spilled the milk. The glass and plate were on the floor and there was a big turd on the hearth. The kids were looking at the mess, asking, “Mommy, what happened?”
Betty’s quick on her feet, though, and she replied, “Well, Santa came down the chimney and scared the shit out of Daisy!”
Now at our house, the reindeer got a nice bowl full with white sugar. And for Santa, we’d leave out a piece of pie, mince meat usually, or tarte au sucre (maple sugar pie). If you’ve never had it, you are really missing something! It’s so sweet, it makes you kind of ache behind your ears. You can only eat a small piece or you get nauseous, but that good kind of nauseous from eating too many sweets. So we’d leave some pie for Santa, and a glass of milk.
The next morning, my sister Irene and me would get up at the crack of dawn, run downstairs and find the glass, plate, and bowl empty. And there’d be a letter from Santa telling us what good girls we’d been and how special we were. Santa’s handwriting looked an awful lot like our mother’s, and the Tooth Fairy’s, and Easter Bunny’s for that matter, but it took me years to put that together. I’d love to see one of those letters now. We never kept them.
My mother was always doing things like that. Oh, I sure do miss her! Every day, but especially during the holidays.
What a shopper she was, my mother! She just loved the Christmas Tree Shop. Who doesn’t? Whenever the Women Who Run With the Moose go to Portland — it doesn’t matter if it’s July — we stop in there. ‘Cause you get great deals on things you didn’t even know you needed until you saw them, and then you realize you can’t live without them. And besides, even if you only use it once, you saved so much money, it’s still a bargain!
That’s what I’d say if I got to be in one of those Christmas Tree Shop commercials. You know, the ones where they have real people shopping and telling you about the great deals they’re finding? You can tell they’re real people because they look like someone you’d see at a bean supper, or down to the transfer station. They don’t look like Q-tips. That’s what us girls call women who are so thin their heads look too big for their body. I’m not talking about people who are sick or starving. I’m referring to women who choose to look that way. Like, Sally Field used to be normal. Now she’s a Q-tip. Susan Lucci (who plays Erica Cane on “All My Children”): nice looking woman, but a Q-tip. Nancy Reagan: classic Q-tip.
My Grandmother used to say, and I think she was right, “Once you get past a certain age, you need to have an extra ten pounds on you so you look good in the coffin.” ‘Course, this is a woman who also used to say, “A kiss without a mustache is like an egg without salt.” And neither one of her husbands had a mustache! Irene and me still ponder that one.
You can also tell that the people in Christmas Tree Shop commercials are real people because their teeth aren’t perfect or blindingly white, which you see a lot of on TV. What is it with the bright white teeth? There’ll be an actor playing a street person on CSI, or a hobo in a movie of the week, and they have these perfect, blindingly white teeth. It’s distracting as all get out.
Anyway, I really want to do one of those Christmas Tree Shop commercials. As my husband Charlie says, “Sweetheart, you’ve spent enough money down there. You’ve earned it!”
Merry Christmas everyone!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here. )