As I got older I started to tie the tree to the credenza with some twine. I was tired of picking shattered ornaments out of the orange shag carpet and replacing colored bulbs constantly.

man, did we have Christmases, I always got everything I wanted. Those were the times, money was pouring in from the under-the-table finances of my father’s business. Cash was everywhere: under the bed, in the dry-sink, Under the sink in the bathroom. Mom would scoop some up and ask, “what do you want for Christmas?”

Of course Mom was having a blast spending dad’s money, cause she knew he had earmarked that money to pay off the lean that the IRS had put on our house after he scammed them by not paying the payroll taxes for several years. Boy would he be surprised this Christmas!

But hell, he was never really surprised because all he ever got were ties or cartons of cigarettes - always wrapped neatly. Mom said he loved these items and asked for them all the time but she seemed to be smiling too much when he opened his gifts. He would smile too and then quietly move to the sofa to watch the East-West Shrine game - some obscure Christmas college football sleeper that meant about as much to anyone as what my father got for each year.

But damn was it a special day. The best part was when we went outside to show off our gifts to the other neighborhood kids. I ruled the day. Them with their silly clothes, or maybe the one kid would get a new bike. All I had to do was flash two or three gifts and they all would wilt like flowers in the hot Florida humidity. Maybe that’s why they were always beating me up? Naah! They were just boys being boys…

The day continued with a big home cooked breakfast; the works. Bacon, eggs, hash-browns, toast…and eggnog. I could only have a little eggnog because whatever mom poured in from the fat brown jug made my ears burn.

Mom and I would make snacks for the neighbors that might come over. We made this onion dip that would knock your shorts off; which is good because your shorts would be around your ankles for days after anyway…

For lunch I would sneak a couple a’ more eggnogs and usually would get really sleepy in the afternoon, probably in anticipation of the coming turkey dinner, I guess. It was usually around this time that my mom would hide the eggnog so I couldn’t find it. Kind of a silly game if you ask me but she was funny like that.

I guess we should have gotten cartons of beer for Dad instead of ties and cigarettes cause he would always run out by late afternoon. Thank goodness the local liquor store was open and full of holiday cheer as he would send me to get more cheer by early evening. Ah the days when the local liquor store would sell to a 10 year old who came in for his father. For years I bought beer for my dad, even when he didn’t ask me to.

Finally the day would end with us around the Christmas tree to give thanks for what we had and didn’t have. Mom and Dad played a game where they would get real close and point fingers in each others faces. They would continue to review the past year and remind each other of the things that they missed the most. Usually it involved my father’s ability to carry on multiple relationships at one time - I guess he had lots of friends.

The day would culminate with a game of ring-around-the-Christmas-tree and end when one of them would grab the tree and fling it to the floor. I guess that was some kinda tradition from the old country? Who knows.

I gave my thanks quietly because of the twine that held up the Christmas tree. I had grown tired of picking the ornament shards from the orange shag carpet and tired from the days event. Oh wait, there’s that eggnog. Maybe I’ll have one before I hit the bed…

(1990)