I love this time of year because it always takes me back to when I was a kid. Growing up in Marietta, Georgia was so much fun, especially around Christmas. Marietta was not the biggest town on the map but it played big every Christmas or that’s at least how I remember it! Outside of seeing what Santa brought for my sister and me on Christmas, I think the most fun I had at Christmas was going shopping with my mom. As I got older, not so much, but for several years there, shopping was extremely fun!!
My favorite store back then was the Sears and Roebuck (if you remember the Roebuck, you’re dating yourself). They would go all out in decorating their store each year. From the parking lot all throughout the building and even in the garage where they fixed the cars, they would decorate any and everything!! It was like Santa’s workshop had been relocated to Marietta for the Christmas season! I can still remember the days of walking through the double, front doors trying hard to not sprint down that center aisle and around the corner to where I knew the toys, games, and Santa would be waiting. Magical times I tell you, for in that instance, everything else disappeared!! Incredibly, Santa always seemed to know exactly what to bring me on Christmas morning!!
Cumberland Mall back then was the place to go!! At the time, it was the most massive size building I had ever been in and to see it all decorated for Christmas was simply overwhelming to a young kid. I remember the smell of the mall at Christmas time. I know that’s probably odd but I do, I remember, smelling all of the different fragrances as you walked in and out of the different stores. And the Christmas music was great as it was the only time of year we got to hear it and no matter where you were in the mall, you could hear it – I thought that was just amazing. I remember people being happy and almost overflowing with joy. Sure, I remember some people that seemed really stressed out and ill at the world but I just figured they knew they were on Santa’s naughty list already and were just bummed because they weren’t getting presents that year.
I remember the lights as we would drive around in all the neighborhoods. So bright, festive and full of life were the houses that were decked out for Christmas, especially the ones that had an undecorated house next to them. We usually would take our tour two or three days in advance of Christmas and that was my beacon of hope to know I just had to wait a couple of more days. And I will admit, I was terrible about waiting for the rest of the family to see what was under the Christmas tree!! One year my parents even hung a sheet in the hallway to try to keep me from sneaking a peek at what laid just beyond it. I will not divulge whether or not this attempt was successful for them or not. I remember the year of the pinball machine because I know I heard Santa, my dad and whoever else was there playing it as I was trying to sleep in my room.
Finally, Christmas Days were just the best!! And not because of whatever I may have received that morning but just because the whole day was filled with joy, love, laughter and food!! As my sister and I got older, mom and dad didn’t seem as eager to get right to the tree. Which was fine with me because mom always had her sausage cheese balls ready for us to eat. When we finally did get to the tree I was always amazed at how my parents seemed just as happy as Audra and me were, at the presents we had received even though they didn’t have near as many. In the early afternoon we would head over to Aunt Saralene’s house. Now this was always a truly magical time as we would one by one open all the presents that were collected under the tree. This took hours to do and the only way to get through it was to make sure you kept yourself fed and there was always great food to fill the need!!
Sitting around their big family room opening presents was simply amazing!! Everyone laughing, then crying from laughing, then laughing again and the competition….man it could get intense. I’m not talking about who got the best or most presents, no, it was who could get who the best present, as everybody really tried to get everyone the perfect gift! Incredibly fun times, and I hope that my kids are able to look back at their childhood Christmas’ experiences with the same fondness that I have for mine.
Merry Christmas to you all!!
Peace and thanks for reading!