My fondest memory of Christmas comes from the first Christmas after my sister and I figured out that our gifts did not come from a jolly white bearded man in a red suit, but from our single parent mother who worked overtime at two jobs just to see us smile on Christmas day.
We were the three musketeers; my mother, my sister and me. It was us against the world and we seemed to hold our own. The only time an outsider was let into the posse was for Christmas when my sister and me welcomed Santa into the fold.
In those early years, my sister and I never understood why Santa’s handwriting looked a lot like mommy’s on the tags on the gifts under the tree. Nor did we understand why her prideful eyes held a little bit of jealousy as we sang praises to Santa for our gifts.
With age comes wisdom and if age doesn’t school you, other kids will. Soon the proverbial grapevine told us there was no Santa and that our mom was the one supplying the gifts. We didn’t want to believe them, but the left over cookies in the refrigerator and the half-drank glass of milk with her lipstick on the glass made her suspect. It soon dawned on us that the schoolyard grapevine was right and Santa wouldn’t leave cookies in a fridge he wouldn’t visit again for another year and from everything we had been told about him, he didn’t wear Avon shade #12 lipstick either, so we knew the truth was that Santa and mommy were one in the same.
After opening our gifts that first Christmas after our discovery, my sister and I allowed our mother to hang on for a little while to the belief that her daughters still had the innocent belief in fairytales and myths. But that Christmas we just said how thankful we were for being fortunate enough to receive gifts; we no longer gave the glory to the man in the red suit. Our mother’s eyes began to have less envy in them for the sleigh driver who had stolen part of her joy for years. When she went into the kitchen she saw the note we had left on the plate of half-eaten cookies that said, “Thanks for all you do.”
That Christmas, we started a new tradition, every Christmas morning we would go out in the front yard, lay down in the snow and move our arms and legs side to side leaving snow angles on our lawn. Mommy was always in the middle with a daughter on each side. We left our marks every Christmas morning that we didn’t need Santa or anyone else because we were, and always would be, the Three Musketeers.