AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

>…..I used to put my tree up like a whirling dervish the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I did it all by myself.  Many times throughout my life I have been alone and that did not bother me.   It was just that no one had the commitment, the intensity, the need to make it look just right, and the desire to do it right now……not in 30 minutes..NOW.  So I’ve always flown solo on the tree

.…..The tree is up and it looks beautiful.  Since the family ornaments all have been passed down to the children there is no reason to whimper as I remember baby’s first Christmas.  Now my tree is wrapped with paper and fake pearls and magnolias and fashioned after a tree I once fell in love with at the Greenbrier.…

..In past years, decorating the tree had been a labor of love as I created something not only I could enjoy, but Bill could enjoy.  Not so this year and I wonder to my self “why I am doing this?”  Is it out of habit or is it a refusal to give in to sadness and wallow in my own self- pity.  I look around town and I know others in the same situation are struggling.

 …..Nope, I do it because it is Christmas and there is joy in Christmas.   And, I am the luckiest person I know to have two kids, six grandkids, two great granddaughters and a dog named Max.  I am not alone.   I have people here with me.  And, I have people here with memories of Christmas past who comfort me, amuse me and remind me that I come from a long line of people who love dearly and act outrageously

.…..Which bring me to MEMORIES.  Christmas memories that never leave us.  The good, the bad and the preposterous .  They are the part that doesn’t go away.  When the tree is all done and the lights in the room all are dimmed, I will always be the little girl fresh from her bath all dressed up for the Chrismas Eve party who will creep downstairs to lay in front of the manger and say prayers for baby Jesus.  That memory will never leave me and that person will  always be me.

…….We’re going to share our memories in the coming month.  The one that has stuck with me for years was the late John Kuzio and the telegram he showed me.   It was addressed to his mother from the Pacific Front after WW II and all it said was “I’ll be home for Christmas. Your son, John.”   It sends shivers down my spine today thinking of that mother knowing she would have her son for Christmas and John Kuzio knowing he was coming home to his hometown.

……..Strangely enough, memories don’t always center around gifts, but favorite people now gone.  When I asked Shannon her favorite memory, she answered in a nanosecond.   Elby’s, her beloved Papa, her brother, Doug, and the five boisterous Webster clan. When Tamera, Susan, Michael, Matthew and Brian gathered together they resembled a Marx brother ensemble on steroids. .Each Christmas Eve at noon,  my Dad took the kids to see Santa and lunch.   It was a last minute trip to remind Santa (who had a lot on his mind) not to forget about them..  They could eat whatever they desired for lunch.  With Shannon it was always spaghetti.  They were dressed in their Sunday best and off they went  in that big old Lincoln a sure violation of all the traffic safety laws in the West Virginia code.  Remember this was back when there were no laws restricting seat belts on passengers.   They piled seven kids of various ages one on top of each other to make the trip.  The trip was often as much fun as the meal.    One year the sheer weight  caused a flat tire.   Out of eight of them no one knew how to fix a flat tire.  Luckily a good Samaritan changed it for them

.……..The memory is not without trauma.  As the kids aged, Shannon was the youngest who still put on the little fur coat and hat and put her hands in a muff for this event…….and most of all she still “believed.” As they careened down Main Street in the upper end of Weirton, who should the group spot but a santa coming straight out of a liquor store.  Seeing his inebriated state, the boys started yelling for Papa to speed up and hit him.  Papa is playing along speeding up and slowing down as Shannon screams.  To this day, she will not reveal if it was Santa she was concerned about or that he would be sitting in the drunk tank while her Chatty Cathy baby doll was stuck in his sleigh.……Next week, Abbi.   Won’t you share a memory with your hometown?