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Posts tagged ‘military families’

In Search of the Real Santa Claus

In Search of the Real Santa Claus

I’m going out on a limb here and telling you a true Christmas story. I think this was the catalyst for my deep and abiding love of the Christmas season.

I was six, living in Colorado Springs. We had probably not been stationed there more than a few months but I remember being in the first grade there. I also remember being bone cold walking to school in my pink wool coat, leggings, and hat.

I took this in the mall before Thanksgiving

I took this in the mall before Thanksgiving

Dad had returned from a tour of duty in Korea and my baby sister was just learning to walk on the hardwood floors my parents had refinished for a reduced rent. I loved the area as a stream ran close to our house and I would sit for hours listening to it burble.

My dad's cousin Virgie made this ornament. Goes on my tree every year first.

My dad’s cousin Virgie made this ornament. Goes on my tree every year first.

Military families at that time were often struggling with a shortfall of income to expense. To make ends meet, we often got together at the end of the month with other enlisted military families to pool food resources to feed the whole bunch. Christmas was just not on the list of needs and I don’t remember having one before this one.

Six year old’s at school were all excited about Santa Claus. They brought me up to speed and I asked my parents about a tree. Well, dad decided to see what could be done. We piled in our beat-up old car with no heat and took a drive to the woods to see if dad could cut one down. How was I to know we couldn’t afford to buy one?

A peaceful Christmas

A peaceful Christmas

Dad got out his trusty pocket knife and went to work on a small sapling. It wouldn’t budge to the dull blade. I was heartbroken but too cold to complain. Heading back into the house my mom and dad went to un-swaddle my sister. As I stood at the dark door frame, there was a shadow to my right. I called out and asked my parents to come look.

There on the dark porch of our lonely little house, stood a good-sized Christmas tree leaning against the wall. No note nor another human around anywhere. Santa Claus had brought us our very own tree. I don’t think we even had a tree stand but mom and dad just looked at each other so perplexed that I could tell they had no clue where it came from. I was already an experienced reader of people so I was certain they weren’t putting on for my benefit. Santa Claus was re

I believed in Santa for the rest of my life. The Santa that lives in the hearts of kind people who know how to silently and anonymously reach out and give aid to a struggling family. Santa taught me that there was good in a world that is too often demanding and cruel. I didn’t need toys; I had a tree and the scent was luscious. For many years after, while my siblings were still young, I would sit with them in our room while we waited for Santa to come. Then we finally heard the tinkling of his bells way up in the air as he made his way to the top of our apartment building. No, we didn’t need a fireplace. Santa magically dropped the few items for us right through the walls.

These have all found new homes for the holidays

These have all found new homes for the holidays

My parents never knew who put the tree there but I found out later that there was a neighbor who tried to bring my mother a chicken to cook for dinner. Problem was, the chicken was still alive and mom didn’t know how to cook. She gave it back. They took it home, dressed it, cooked it and brought it back. There is good in the world year round and sometimes I call it Santa Claus.

Do you still believe?

May your holiday be everything your heart needs to be full.

Merry Christmas
From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of an Odd Memory

Spring is in the air and with somewhat warmer temps, I’ve had a bit energetic momentum. It was time to change out the down comforter for something a bit lighter. When I opened the bag the lighter weight comforter was in, the smell nearly knocked me over. Well, I certainly couldn’t sleep under that. What to do, what to do? I could pay $20 -$30 dollars to get it dry cleaned and live with that chemical smell. There is no laundromat close by and because it has ribbon embroidery on the front, even a commercial washer can be a bit hard on it.

My last option was going back to an old memory from almost 45 years ago. Yes, I’m that old. My young military husband was stationed in Taiwan and I was allowed to join him there with our toddler son. It was like stepping into a time warp. We finally found a nice two-story apartment that had almost no modern conveniences. At least it had indoor plumbing. I cooked on a two burner hot plate and a toaster oven. We bought a refrigerator from the PX that was sold to the next family when we left. Washer and dryer? Not an option.

Military families were encouraged to hire local household help. I had very little to do in the way of cleaning the apartment but it was explained to me by those in the know, that a house girl did more than clean. I found a gem. She spoke relatively good English and understood quite well. Her job was essentially to do my downtown marketing and oversee what my son received as snack from neighborhood playmates. She said some things were ok for him, some not. Everything someone gave him, he had to show her before eating. If it was ok, he got the go ahead, if not it was traded for something safe for his American constitution. She taught me so many things in that 15 months.

What I learned about laundry from my house-girl, was something that has helped many years over. She watched me one day doing my laundry in the bathtub. I was doing it wrong. “Back and arms not strong” she said. “Legs and feet stronger” I just looked at her. Get in the tub with your feet and swish the clothes that way. By golly, it worked and my back was very happy about it.

Those are some strong legs and feet there. Just not very pretty.

Those are some strong legs and feet there. Just not very pretty.

any wonder I'm so fascinated with ducks.

any wonder I’m so fascinated with ducks.

That is what I did with the comforter. I couldn’t take pictures of me actually doing the washing parts. I’ve already given 2 phones a permanent burial at sea that way. I also have to firmly hold on to the counter and the tub handle because of my balance issue. So all you get to see is the spin cycle. Once the water is drained, I put it in the dryer on a delicate dry. Now, on my bed, it smells quite fresh and lovely.

Finally on the bed for a while.

Finally on the bed for a while.

I’ve done laundry this way on rare occasions and it always brings back fond memories of a woman, herself a mother of 3, who always had our best interests at heart and kept us safe in unknown territory. It’s interesting what brings up memories. A spring cleaning can bring up many for me. How about you?

Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.
~ Bob Dylan

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Santa Claus

I was reading a post this morning asking the best way to out Santa Claus to your children. Several readers offered helpful advice. I was at the ready to offer my own and thought better of it. But the thought is still there. I had always followed along with the rest of the country with this Santa Claus thing. It was fun to some extent.

I first learned of Santa Claus at the age of six. That’s usually when most children start to question his existence. That year I learned Santa was real. I have believed in Santa ever since.

We were a dirt poor military family. Most months there wasn’t enough food left before the next payday to feed us so several families my parents knew would get together and combine what was left in their cupboards to feed all of us. Money for a tree or gifts was out of the question. My parents were both hard workers. Mom didn’t have a job; she had us and the house but was always trying to find ways to make extra money at home.

Dad took us out one night to see if he could cut down a tree in the Colorado woods. His only tool was a pocket knife. Result, no tree. Disappointment weighed heavy on my heart.

Mom and dad walked back in our door with my little sister in tow and of course, I dragged behind; disappointment punctuating every step. The porch was dark but looking up, I saw a shadow. I looked harder. I shouted for my parents. Is this a tree on our porch? They finally turned on the porch light and there it stood in all its glory. The parents looked at each other and I could tell they had no clue where the tree had come from. They were with me so I knew they didn’t put it there. It had to be Santa. I have believed in Santa ever since.

When you study the phenomena of Santa Claus you know of course St. Nicholas was the European version. He brought gifts to the poor and did it secretly. We never knew who put the tree on our porch but as I grew, I knew I too could be Santa. We had almost nothing in the way of toys my entire childhood but I always had the magic of a mysterious kind heart that gave what was necessary to keep the wonder of the season in a child’s heart.

My vision of St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus

My vision of St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus

My gift to my children was to raise them to have generous and kind hearts. When you teach children to reach out to others even when you have little yourself, you have gifted the world. There are so many children that have so many toys. It would be lovely if they were taught to gift toys they no longer favored but were still in perfect condition to others. I know many that do. Santa Claus is alive and well in the body of many who care.
I think that’s a fairy tale your children can live with.

From my heart to yours
Marlene Herself HO HO HO