Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Past...

I distinctly remember sitting around Uncle Mike & Aunt Debs** kitchen, and hearing the adults reminisce about their "poor days" as young couples and college students. Mr. Man's parents, and Aunt Peggy were there as well, talking about the simple early days of their families. One of them said, "I loved being poor college students." I believe it was Mr. Man's dad who said that, the details are fuzzy because it was a LONG time ago.... and my children have used all my brain cells today. Anyway, I remember stopping whatever I was doing and my jaw dropped and I said.... "You LOVED being poor?" as if they just told me the world was not round, but a cube. They reminisced about the simpler times, the simple pleasures of going out for ice cream.

I thought they were crazy...

However, I must be getting old, because I pulled this picture out from our Christmas box and I looked at that couple... and smiled remembering that very first Christmas. In our teeny tiny house in LA with one small heater, that hardly heated.

Am I wearing a Christmas sweater in that pic? And why are my bangs so short? Yes, that is a baggy Christmas sweater, and my bangs are short because several weeks prior Ross cut my hair. He claims he knew how to do it, but my bangs ended up an inch shorter than I asked for, and I took one look in the mirror and burst into tears. They grew out, and Mr. Man felt guilty every time he looked at me for 4 months. Times were simple back then.

We were on a tight budget... Mr. Man just started his first real job, and I was working in downtown LA getting ready to quit and head back to school. I had a whole $5 a week to do whatever I wanted with. Our grocery bill was rarely over $20 (although, that was also the era where we eat spaghetti every day, because it was all I knew how to cook) We also ate roasted garlic on Ritz Crackers every Sunday night as a special treat. I remember this, because it had to be real Ritz crackers, and those were "expensive".

That first Christmas was romantic, I remember my gifts included a black fitted Gap sweater, which I still have for sentimental reasons... (I'm sure Mr. Man was hoping I'd wear it instead of that huge festive sweater), some Victoria's Secret lotion, and a wonder mop (those were ALL the rage back then). We looked forward to exchanging gifts and Christmas. We sat by the tree and talked about Christmas's to come... the traditions we wanted to carry out with our future family.

We gave our little spunky old neighbor lady, Gloria, that we loved dearly, an ornament that I handpicked from Pic'n'Save, and she gave us a box of Godiva Chocolates. I felt terrible that we gave her something so cheap, and she gave us something so indulgent... something that cost 10 times more than what we paid for that gift.... however she kept that ornament out year round, and when she passed away her daughter took that ornament knowing it was a prized posession. I learned a lot that from that experience, a gift does not have to be expensive to be of great worth.

And the tree... was a hand me down from Mr. Man's parents. It was plastic, real plastic, like tupperware and a bit brittle due to age. The bottom half of the tree only had branches in the front. We had that tree for years, and every year it got a little more sparse, and it shed just like a real Christmas tree. I saved a branch of that tree, and keep it amoung our Christmas things. The tree spent it's last Christmas with us when Mr. Man was in Grad School, another humble year, and it didn't have branches on the bottom half. It was a real space saver, and a real conversation starter. I have a soft spot in my heart for that tree... just call me Charlie Brown.

Those early days were filled with fun memories. We watched a ton of movies, and Mr. Man was always playing new music for me. I had missed the 80's, and he was totally stoked to fill me in. We listened to Kevin and Bean on KROQ every morning while getting ready for work. And every once in a while we'd go out on a date.... to Panda Express or In-n-Out. Mr. Man took me on a tour of In-n-Out's across LA during that first year. Telling me about the important event that happened at each one. And going out to eat... that was BIG deal. I got dressed up, put on perfume, and everything. Oh, and Souplantation... that was reserved for special occasions... you know like Birthdays.

Whew... I could reminisce all day...

Anyway, bottom line, I look back at those "poor days" and I smile. I know what the "older folks" were talking about.

Simple Bliss.

This all goes towards the concept that I've been working on, and that's enjoying this ride called life. My friend Bob in particular is always so good about reminding me to enjoy the phase I am in. When the Christmas tree is decorated in one giant blob on the bottom two feet, obviously done by a toddler she will exclaim, "That...is AWESOME! Did you get a picture of that?" There is a time and season for everything my friends.... one day my clothes will be free of sticky handprints, and I'll come across a young mom with a sticky handprint on her pants, and I'll smile.

**Uncle Mike and Aunt Deb, everyone should be so lucky to have relatives like them. Deb makes you feel like you are the most special guest in attendance when you visit. There is no other woman more gracious than Aunt Deb. And Uncle Mike... everyone should have an Uncle Mike. And at one time, we had a theory, that everyone does have an Uncle Mike. He is a riot, always laughing, cracking jokes, and it's never dull around him.

No comments: