May Santa Deliver Dream Memories

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dad and mabel Deliver Dream Memories

As 2010 comes to a close, I have just four months of hard writing ahead of me before my time at draws to a close. This last massive push to convert all the questionnaires into stories will be intense.

Funny enough — as I work I find my mind wondering to thoughts of Santa Claus. Or rather, my childhood dreams of Santa.

I grew up in San Francisco in the sixties. And when I say “sixties” I mean 1960, 61, 62. You know, the years before The Beatles, before hippies and Bill Graham and marijuana.

At Christmastime we posed for photos in front of trees with bubbler lights and too much tinsel. And usually, because my family was small, we banded together with the other young families on the block and had some sort of Holiday party during which one dad disappeared right before Santa Claus showed up with a shaving cream beard.

We believed in Santa passionately and would argue with older kids when they tried to fill us in — or rather, ruin Christmas for us. Our parents we poor enough to carry paper bag lunches out the door each morning but we always believed that wonderful things would await us Christmas morning.

By the time I was five or six my mother had managed to completely erase any family connections on her side. We were told we came from a very small family. Just us, in fact. So don’t expect too much at Christmas.

And you buy that as a kid. It takes decades before you realize that it’s a gyp when a parent climbs up the family tree and saws off all the strongest limbs. (Note to self: NOBODY comes from a small family. The human family is huge until one person runs away from their family and then lies to their children about it.)

On my father’s side there were my grandparents who didn’t approve of adopting kids and my dad’s twin brother, our uncle who had two sons, our cousins, who were about our age. I can only remember one Christmas at our house when a long table was set and the doorbell rang and friends and relatives came and went bearing gifts and good wishes.

For most of my childhood Christmas was my dad’s department. He believed in tall trees, lots of lights and tinsel and as many $2 presents he could wrap and stuff under the tree.

I look at old photos now and I can tell you which bin or shelve each toy came off of at our local Geary Blvd. toy store. The Lincoln Logs were by the door. Airplane models were on the back wall. Pick-Up-Stix and decks of cards closer to the cash register. We never got a puppy or a toy car or anything big and flamboyant, but we were kids and we enjoyed ripping the paper and lifting the doll or harmonica out of its perfect box.

Our Christmas Eve tradition was pure sixties. My father, who never liked to wear, or do whatever the next guy chose, crafted together a life-sized stuffed woman named Mabel using one of my grandmother’s WWII suits, a pair of thick hose, gloves and a wig made from unspun reel-to-reel recording tape.

Forget cookies and milk my dad would crow. We want Santa to come to our house first and stay so long he has to leave us other kids’ presents. So, up would go Mabel on a comfy chair with one knee crossed over the other. On a t.v. tray nearby my dad would pour a shot of whiskey and lay out a couple of cigarettes.

For a long time, we thought this was normal.

I didn’t think every kid had a Mabel to put out. But I supposed they had a Sally or Gracie. I had to be 25 years old before the thought of my dad putting out Mabel made me laugh.

The past year I’ve been writing a bunch of tough stories about a not too nice childhood dominated negatively mainly by my toxic mother. This weekend it’s nice to remember the effort my dad made to thrill us during the holidays and to create so many happy memories.

May your Holiday Season be Merry and Bright. And may you choose to remember only the dream memories.

Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

  • Heather Montgomery, CEO & serial entrepreneur

    Thanks for sharing your memories! I love looking back on the details we remember as kids. I love recreating them for my son.

    Happy holidays! – H

  • Rayne I love the story of Mabel and all the touching stories of your father. Never heard of a family who had a Mabel! Although I’m sure it was difficult to realize yours was the only one around that did, glad you can laugh about and appreciate that memory now… it is hilarious.

    Cheering you on in the home stretch! Let me know how I can support you!


  • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

    When I first read this I thought OMG where are you going, then I realized you were talking about the dream of writing your book is coming to a close – talk about a heart attack!

    We used to go to big family parties on Christmas Eve with all our relatives from my step-grandmother’s side of the family. I loved it. We had so much fun. Then we’d go to Midnight Mass on the way home and wake up in the morning to gifts under the tree.

    We always got new jammies, so we’d put them on and lounge around in them all day while my mother cooked some amazing dinner. I wish my father was still alive so that we could have enjoyed more of these traditions.

    Yesterday I went to my new sister-in-laws home for a new Christmas tradition. It was fun to be around a large family again and see my brother so happy with his new wife. There was laughter, good food, good wine and genuine caring from my family and my new family about what is going on with me in my life. It was comforting to answer their questions and hear their advice.

    I wonder what my niece and nephew will say about these years when they are older.

    Happy Holidays Rayne.

    Hugs, Cath