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Bits of past still glitter

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

I remember a lot of them. Bits and pieces, some of them. Memories of Christmas.

The sound the screen door made as it slammed shut. The feel of the cold ground on my bare feet as I ran into the yard. The way the brown dirt of the driveway sparkled. And what was that? Prints? Tiny prints tinged with glitter?

That settled it. It was true. It was Christmas morning and Santa had been there.

How else would one explain the tiny hoof prints sprinkled throughout the yard?

Magic. Pure magic.

We didn’t have a fire place growing up. How would he get into our house, I would ask at least a hundred times each year, and at least a hundred times they would tell me that Santa would simply come through the door. The door? But wouldn’t it be locked? Santa has a magic key, a key that fits every door in the world, they would explain.

Uh... somehow that didn’t make me feel much better. If he had a key, wouldn’t that mean he could come in some other night of the year? Spring a surprise visit? Check out whether or not we were being good? Huh? What about that?

It only works on Christmas Eve, they told me. Only then. So don’t worry.

But what about the fire place, where would we hang our stockings? Our red stockings with the white furry band around the top? I remember one year I put my name on mine, spelled it out in Elmers Glue and silver glitter. There was a bar between our kitchen and den and, using thumb tacks, that’s where we would put them. Santa knew which one was mine. It was the glitter. I know it.

My daddy used to tell us we’d get soda crackers if we were bad. Switches and soda crackers, that’s what Santa brought bad children, ones that didn’t do what they were told or keep their room clean or do their homework. Switches and soda crackers.

I never got soda crackers or switches, but I worried a little. Just a little.

My granddaddy had a Christmas tree made of silver aluminum, and a rotating color wheel that turned slowly, changing the tree from red to blue to yellow to green.

The tree stood on an aluminum stand, and on Christmas afternoon I would sit on the carpet in front of the tree watching it change colors and eating hard candy out of my book of Christmas Life Savers. We always got a book of Christmas Life Savers and I’d give the orange ones to my sisters and brothers. I didn’t like the orange ones, but I loved the Pep-O-Mint. The cool Pep-O-Mint.

The weather man scared me once on Christmas Eve. My brother didn’t help. The weather man told us on the 6 o’clock news that something mysterious had been spotted in the sky right above Georgia. Something flying... eight tiny reindeer... What? Already? Yes! Already! You’d better go to bed, my brother urged me. Quick! He’s not going to bring you anything, nothing at all if he sees you’re awake, he said.

I ran, ran as fast as my little legs would take me to my bed and jumped into it.

Only I missed and landed on the floor. Smack dab on the floor on the other side.

I cried.

The next day my brother gave me his Pep-O-Mint Life Savers for my orange ones.

His way of saying he was sorry, I suppose.

Funny the things you remember from your childhood. Any time of year, but especially at Christmas. Bits and pieces, some of them. Christmas memories of glitter and soda crackers, magic keys and Life Savers. Magic.

Pure magic.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.