Twelve Days of Christmas Mash-up!
by Dawn DeBraal
Please welcome Dawn to the Writers Journey Blog this week. By way of introduction, I believe that Christmas is all about memories and in turn making more, so Dawn was gracious enough to share some of her memories with us! Above Left to Right: Amy, Bonnie holding Gary, Dawn and William. Dawn and her siblings...
After watching The Walton’s Family Christmas Special, I was reminded of my Christmas’s past, and they weren’t like the Walton’s. I wrote a piece called the Twelve Days of Christmas and I have shared a lot of family experiences and was surprised at some of the responses I got back. Elaine has sked me to give you a mash-up of this project.
Day One: I wrote about my parents’ arguments over decorating the Christmas Tree. Each year the lights were thrown in a box and the following Christmas a tangled mess of wires and nerves awaited us to the point where when my parent’s said, “Let’s decorate the tree, we ran like cockroaches in the kitchen when a light switch turns on. Back then “serial lights,” meant the whole string was out if one stinking bulb burned out.
Day Two: Was the Sunday School Christmas program and the bag of unshelled peanuts, an orange, and some hard candies were thrown together. The peanuts were crushed by the orange, and they tainted the hard candy. But we got to participate in the Christmas Play.
Day Three: Dealt with the worst Christmas ever, when my brothers, sisters, and cousins found the unwrapped gifts we were getting in my Great Aunt’s Basement. It was the year of no surprises and we never looked again.
Day Four: The year as a young parent, my husband nor I bought anything for me to put under the Christmas tree. My children asked if I were bad because Santa didn’t bring me anything for Christmas and the stares between husband and wife, and how the following year I got back at him by buying myself some great presents and watching him have to remain quiet.
Day Five: The bumper harvest Christmas happened when my mother, who would write down a big wish list and whittle it down because she was a waitress, and my father was a police officer and there were five of us. That year my dad accidentally mailed in the non-reduced list which they probably had to make payments on for a year. Best. Christmas. Ever.
Day Six: I still cringe on this one. My little sister who is wonderful now, was kind of a spoiled brat and was telling me that she was going to get more presents than me that year, she was good, I was bad. I got mad and told her the truth about Santa, she was crushed, and I have been crushed for over 50 years for doing that.
Day Seven: My husband who was properly chastised for not buying a Christmas gift went to a bankrupt stock store and bought the kids and I named toothbrushes, only they weren’t our names. I was Sandra, my daughter was Mary, my son was Ted. He also brought a suspicious box that looked like a slow cooker. My rule is NEVER to buy an appliance for me for Christmas. I asked my husband if he bought a slow cooker, and he swore he didn’t. Christmas morning, he was truthful, it wasn’t a slow cooker, it was a Fry Daddy.
Day Eight: Dealt with my Mother as she floated around on Christmas morning to five frustrated children with new games and toys not knowing how to put things together. I thought she was a genius because she never read the instructions, she just knew how it worked. I then discovered as an adult that most toys came wrapped in plastic and that my mother had opened and played with everything before she gave it to us on Christmas morning!
Day Nine: My grandmother drove from a Chicago Suburb to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with her two daughters and their families who lived next door to each other. She brought our favorite treat she called “Dog Poop” because of its shape it was some kind of peanut butter logs. It did stop us for a short time not eating it, but we soon realized the only bad thing about it was the name. She also bought a big bag of cashews one year, and I had never eaten them before. I loved them so much I made myself sick. Moderation in all things is a good policy.
Day Ten: My favorite memory of Christmas is when my parents gave us a pink cardboard
kitchen set and my aunt sewed the girls' evening gowns from old drapes. The kitchen set eventually went upstairs in the hallway and then out to the shed. We had no room for it. But it was fun while it lasted. (Baby sister Amy in the pink cardboard kitchen.)
Day Eleven: My husband impressed me by singing Oh Christmas Tree in German, something his Sunday School teacher taught him as a small child. My daughter took German as a minor in college and ended up living in Germany for three years.
When her father sang it one year, she said, “Dad, you are singing nonsense.”
“No, I am singing it the way I learned it.”
“Oh Tannenbaum oh Tannenboum, Enure dusure sur summer site. Oh Tannenbaum or Tannenbaum, In kumfen down and blinter bright.”
Bah ha ha ha. Little Timmy sang in the choir, while everyone else sang the real song, he sang the words he remembers to this very day, incorrectly. But it sure is sweet. In kumfen down and blinter bright. The real German words… see below:
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter! Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit. O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Day Twelve ends with another Christmas Tree fiasco. The Angel at the top. We always had an Angel, I raised my kids with an Angel, only ours was special. Christmas back in the day used hot lights, we had a thousand one hundred watt bulbs on the tree. We started a power plant every time it was plugged in. The only thing brighter was my aunt’s movie camera with a thousand-watt lightbulb at the top.
“Look here kids.” We’d try and face the thousand suns with tears rolling down our cheeks.
One year we could smell something hot. Searching the house we discovered the lightbulb had fallen forward and was in the process of starting our beloved Angel on fire. It had singed her bosoms.
After that, she became fondly known as the Angel with Heartburn. (Picture left: This is 6 of the eight. The Angel on the Tree is the infamous Angel with Heartburn! The two on the left are my cousins Diane and Rick. Binocular Boy is William, to his right is me, and I am hugging the brat, Amy, and my oldest sister Bonnie far right.)
It was dangerous to continue to use her, but she had a place in our hearts and we couldn’t replace her no matter how bad she smelled when she heated up.
In kumfendown and blinter’s bright.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Bio: Dawn DeBraal lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband Red, two rescue dogs, and a stray cat. Dawn has published over 400 stories in many online magazines and anthologies, including Spillwords, Potato Soup Journal, Zimbell House Publishing, Black Hare Press, Clarendon House, Blood Song Books, Cafelit, Reanimated Writers, The World of Myth, Dastaan World, Vamp Cat, Runcible Spoon, Siren’s Call, Setu Magazine, Kandisha Press, Terror House Magazine, D & T Publishing, Sammie Sands, Iron Horse Publishing, Impspired Magazine, Black Ink Fiction and many others. She was the Falling Star Magazine’s 2019 Pushcart nominee.