“Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul,
“With a corncob pipe and a button nose,
“And two eyes made of coal.”
Christmas for the Smiths of my daddy’s clan arrived precisely at 4:06 p.m. a couple of Sundays back, Nov. 29. That was TWO days after Black Friday and three days before Ellison Kate Smith’s dad reached his 33rd birthday.
It was Ellie, our family’s drama queen, who brought in the season, wandering from room-to-room singing.
“Frosty the Snowman ... “
A few nights back, in an early celebration due to family holidays with “them other people,” I stood in our front yard, gazed at our own “Frosty the Snowman” and tried to sing along with 3-year-old Ellie.
He’s a 7-foot plywood cutout painted by the late Ben Howell, a close friend and a master with a paint brush. And our “Freddy” is a sight ... top hat, a big grin, red scarf ’round his neck, “Happy Holidays” scripted across his “belly.”
At night, he’s a winter wonder in the spotlight hidden at his feet.
At least I think he is, but I’m not sure the passing traffic even notices. I have to admit our house tags a bit behind others in the glow and twinkle of Christmas nights.
But sitting in front of our tree Friday night, I sipped at a cup of warm apple cider (honest, it really WAS cider) and played memories of Christmases past, of “the night before” and gatherings at our house for drinking eggnog (some virgin, some not), laughing and eating, and “Oh my, this is exactly what I wanted for Christmas.”
In earlier years, it was just immediate family. The kickoff always came along about 4 p.m., when three small boys hit the kitchen door with:
“We here, Poppa! We here, Neyna! Let’s open presents!!”
In the soft memories of those years, there was “Poppa and Neyna,” son Barry, his wife Susie, and grandsons Riley, Tyler, and Cody. Once the litter of opening presents was cleared away, it was a family dinner with Christmas carols on the stereo.
From there, the eve of Christmas became a tradition as other family drifted in. In the prime years, the number reached 25 to 30. Brother and sisters came, nieces and nephews, uncles and aunts, and cousins. It was a grand time.
But nothing lasts forever.
Grandsons are now grown, have families of their own. They were here Friday night. On the night before, they will be into their own family traditions of building warm memories such as I am enjoying as I sit alone with my cup of (honest, it is really) warm cider.
The blonde, down the hall in our bedroom, has long since drifted into peaceful slumber as I think of the Christmas Eve to come. It will be a quiet thing with Barry and Susie, with Cody and his love Jessica, and even in the dwindled numbers, another warm memory will be stored away in my mind.
Of the many I hold, there is an early one with first-born Barry.
It is 2 in the morning, Santa is expected at the crack of dawn, and me being Santa’s main elf, I am on the living room floor assembling Christmas.
A young and very pretty blonde watches as I struggle with a toy Texaco Service Station. It has slots and tabs and enough parts to send me into a tirade of humbugs.
At the time, I have decided all little boys are train wrecks and are not worth the cost (or trouble) of a toy Texaco Service Station.
But by dawn’s early light, watching our “train wreck” gas up and lube toy cars, my mind stores away my first memory of being a married father on Christmas morning.
It is a very precious memory and one of the softest pillows in my life.
Hope the same for you this Christmas morning ... Merry Christmas, and to you a peaceful goodnight.
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: email@example.com.