When children are little, the holidays all seem to run together somehow.
Looking back, I was a pretty scrawny kid at six and my older brother was two-years larger than me. We lived with our parents in an 8-foot by 45-foot trailer in Daytona Beach, Florida, two blocks from the ocean. Dad worked in the heating and air conditioning business and our Mom took a job with Woolworths to make ends meet. Mickey and I were on our own from the time school let out till our parents got home around five or six o’clock.
It was near Thanksgiving and life was good.
One afternoon Mickey and I watched cartoons and ate mayonnaise on crackers and waited for our parents to come home. The cartoon characters were two mice that lived in a hole in the wall and a cat that invariably chased the mice to eat them. The mice wore only little jackets with patches sewn in the elbows and gloves with fingers missing. The cat would swallow the goldfish and pull the still-connected bones out and make a soup from the bones. The poor mice shivered in front of a roaring fireplace in their little hole in the wall. It was pitiful and funny at the same time.
Mom and Dad drove up and I ran out to meet them. Once inside, I hugged Dad’s leg as he tried to walk and shake me off his foot and he laughed. Mom told me to “settle down” and she began to prepare supper: pinto beans, cornbread and my favorite – fried hot dogs and homemade sauerkraut.
At the table, Mickey and I laughed and giggled and Mom and Dad would talk about their day and plans to go fishing on the weekend. Mickey and I talked about the poor mice and the hungry cat and began to use a fork and knife to cut up a single bean and eat half, then the other half as we had watched on TV.
I laugh even now at how silly we were then; we had not a clue if we were rich or poor but we were happy most of the time. Both our parents were together with us at every meal and we had home cooked foods. We missed our aunts, uncles and grandparents since all our family was in North Carolina but we sent and received handwritten letters every week and we stayed connected and informed.
Child protective services would have had a field day with our parents now; they left us unsupervised at home and in the car alone with the windows down when they shopped for food. My brother and I made our own food while our parents worked, even if it was not nutritious at times. We roamed our neighborhood on our bicycles but we caused no trouble. Mickey and I visited our adult neighbors just to say ‘hello’ and see what they were up to.
Remembering those earlier years makes me smile, even though the relationships have changed for our family. How about your family? What kind of things will your children remember when they are fifty years old? Be thankful you have right now.
Gee, I could really go for some mayonnaise and crackers right about now.