Christmas Eve, what did you leave out for Santa? Cookies? A sandwich? Chocolate? Or even better, what did you feed Santa’s reindeer? Carrots? Apples? When my friend Dot’s husband Tommy was a kid, they’d leave out dog food. I think is kind of weird. I mean, these reindeer are magical beings! They can fly, for God’s sake!
One year, when Betty’s kids were small, they left out some cookies, a glass of milk. That night, Betty and Pat were so busy putting together a new train set, they forgot to put away Santa’s treat. The next morning, they discovered that the dog Daisy had eaten the cookies and spilled the milk. The glass and plate were on the floor, and there, on the hearth, was a big turd. The kids were looking at the mess, “Mommy, what happened?”
Betty, oh she’s quick on her feet. She goes, “Well, Santa come down the chimney and scared the shit out of Daisy!”
You just can’t make stuff like that up.
Now at our house, the reindeer got a nice bowl full with white sugar. And for Santa, we’d leave out a piece of pie, mincemeat usually, or tarte au sucre (maple sugar pie). If you’ve never had it, you are missing something! You can only eat a small piece or you get nauseous, but that good kind of nauseous from eating too many sweets. So we’d leave some pie for Santa and a glass of milk.
The next morning, my sister Irene and me would get up at the crack of dawn, run down stairs and find the glass, plate and bowl empty. And there would be a letter from Santa telling us what good girls we’d been and how special we were. Santa’s handwriting looked an awful lot like our mother’s, and the Tooth Fairy’s and Easter Bunny’s for that matter, but it took me years to put that together. I’d love to see one of those letters now. We never kept any.
It’s the weirdest thing. I can see photos of my mother, and it affects me, but not as much as seeing her handwriting in the margin of a book, or on a recipe. That…that gets me.
What a shopper she was, my mother! She just loved the Christmas Tree Shop. Well, who doesn’t? Whenever me and my friends Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot and Shirley go to Portland, it doesn’t matter if it’s July, we stop in there. ‘Cause you get great deals on things you didn’t even know you needed until you saw them, and then you realize you can’t live without them. And besides, even if you only use it once, you saved so much money, it’s still a bargain!
That’s what I’d say if I got to be in one of those Christmas Tree Shop commercials. You know, the ones where they have regular people shopping round and telling you about the great deals they’re finding? You can tell they’re regular people because they look like someone you’d see at a bean supper, or down to the transfer station. They don’t look like Q-tips. That’s what us girls call women who are so thin their heads look too big for their body. Now, I’m not talking about people who are sick or starving or anything. No, I’m referring to women who choose to look that way. Like, Sally Field used to be normal looking. Now she’s a Q-tip. Susan Lucci (Erica Cane on “All My Children”): nice looking woman, but a Q-tip. Nancy Reagan: classic Q-tip.
As my Grandmother used to say, and I think she was right, “Once you get past a certain age, you need to have an extra ten pounds on you so you look good in the coffin.” ‘Course, this is a woman who also used to say, “A kiss without a mustache is like an egg without salt.” And neither one of her husbands had a mustache! Irene and I still ponder that one.
You can also tell that the people in Christmas Tree Shop commercials are real people because their teeth aren’t perfect and blindingly white, which you see a lot of on TV nowadays. What is it with the bright white teeth? There’ll be an actor playing a street person on CSI or a hobo in a movie of the week, and they have these perfect, blindingly white teeth. It’s distracting as all get out.
Anyway, I really want to be in one of those Christmas Tree Shop commercials. And as my husband Charlie says, “Sweetheart, you’ve spent enough money down there. You’ve earned it!
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flipside!
See a video version of this story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onqd8flc0fg&list=PL-XnXqHkRps3vo4Mk-zRnbF1-CSB8OHiz&index=6
Upcoming Performances and Book Events Winter/Spring 2018
March 7: Book Reading, Cumston Public Library, 6:30pm, Monmouth, ME
March 10: Book Reading, South Portland Public Library, https://southportlandlibrary.com/ 2:00pm, South Portland, ME
March 27: A Visit With Ida, South Berwick Public Library https://www.southberwicklibrary.org/ 7:00pm, South Berwick, ME
March 29: A Visit With Ida, Gardiner Adult Education, https://msad11.maineadulted.org/ 6:00pm, Gardiner, ME
April 10: Book Reading, Goodall Memorial Library, https://lbgoodall.org/#&panel1-1 6:30pm, Sanford, ME
May 1: Book Reading, Berwick Public Library, https://www.berwick.lib.me.us/ 6:00pm, Berwick, ME
Check out my full schedule here: https://www.idaswebsite.com/schedule/