Once upon a time, a long long oh my gawd I cannot be that old, long time ago..
My family lived in a house we were still building, there were no real inner walls, just the studs up at that time.. no indoor plumbing yet.. We had one spicket in the kitchen but if we wanted hot water, we had to use the stove to heat it up.
We were land rich at that time, had over 70 acres.. but not a dollar to our names.
That year, I was 14 and my little brother was 6. There wasn't going to be a Christmas.. or so we thought. I knew that Mom and Dad were Santa. I wouldn't tell my brother that though... anyway..
We had a huge rock fireplace downstairs and a wood stove in the basement. No money for oil for the big heater.. you get the picture.. it was kinda cold in the house all the time. So, my favorite item was my hot water bottle. I kept it full of hot hot water all the time. It was great for warming up hands and or feet. It would burn ya though if you got the water too hot, which I often did.
Anyway, I digress, come the end of October, Mom and Dad would disappear to the basement for hours at a time with express instructions for us kids not to bother them. Being the deviant I am, I thought they were having sex in the only safe place in the house. Not so, I later found out.
I had recently learned to embroider and was an ass kicking crocheter.. I made probably four full sized stuffed animals for my brother, so that he would have something to open on Xmas day. I stuffed em with old rags and pantyhose with runners in them that I had collected from people I knew. I was pretty proud of those animals, I tell ya.. they were cute.. especially the duck.
So, Xmas morning arrives, and even though we had gone through the ritual of hanging the stockings on the fireplace the night before.. I figured there wasn't anything in them. Well, I was wrong. There were a bunch of tiny toys that people had given mom and some home made candies. mmmmm.. I love home made candy.. even better, we all had one big juicy orange and a big thick candy cane to suck the juice out with. (have you ever tried that? it's yummy!)
That was a pretty good start for a no money Xmas right? I figured it was all over and that the few packages under the tree were for my bro. Not so much..
Mom had seen me making those animals every day.. and how hard I had worked on them. Dad knew that I was providing Xmas for my baby bro.. so when I thought they had been sneaking around doing the nasty in the basement.. my mom had knitted me a pair of really ugly but incredibly warm leg warmers.. lol I say they were ugly now.. but then they were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Dad had made me a beautiful keepsake box out of blued pine.. it had a little lock on it as well so that no one could see what I kept there.
After breakfast we all packed up and headed to my Grandma's house.. which we did every sunday and holiday ever. There, much to our surprise was a pile of presents for all of us. There were boxes of clothes for my bro and I.. sure they were hand me downs.. but what the heck? and my fave gift ever.. my very favorite gift of all time. My Grandma, who knew that I kept burning myself with that hot water bottle, had gotten a bit of wooly fake fur and made a cover for the bottle that looked like a little lamb.
Even though I now have food on the table, walls enclosing me, store bought gifts, heat and actual indoor plumbing... I still have my lamby hot water bottle.. It was truly the best Christmas EVER.
Why? Because the people I love, and who love me, had done everything in their power to make sure it was a good one.
Have a wonderful Yule, y'all.
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