Thursday, December 15, 2011
Gas Stations and Santa Claus
For some reason, this time of year I think about one particular miracle. Most would say it isn't a "real" miracle, you know, water-in-to-wine and the whole bit, but the older I get and the more I think on it, it really was a miracle.
When I was a kid, say from as far back as I can remember til, well, until I was about 14, I was the beneficiary to a miracle every year. Now, that I'm older, I can see it for what it was.
To tell this story, I have to explain the situation surrounding it, and I'm not telling this to make anyone upset or hurt, I'm telling it this way so the miracle-part of this will shine through.
Anyhow, when I was a child, and for most of my childhood, my momma worked at a gas station. For part of it she was a manager. My mom worked a lot, and then did everything at our house. My real dad worked, too, but he usually drank or pissed away whatever he made. I spent all my time either with my mom or my memaw and papaw, for as long as I can remember. Even if my real dad wasn't doing anything, I still packed up and went to my grandparents. A decade ago I would tell you it was because he hated me, hell, maybe he does. But now, I just don't know and given all the water under the bridge I don't think about it much at all.
My mom told me once what she made working at that gas station. It was what I made a week in high school working 36 hours a week developing pictures and ringing up Pabst Blue Ribbon. The "miracle", is that on that little amount, I never remember being hungry, feeling the threat of losing our home or electricity, and although we may have not had the latest clothes or toys, we always had what we needed.
Looking back now, I don't know how the heck she did it, but every Christmas my mom somehow kept enough energy that we always spent almost an entire weekend decorating our house, another weekend baking cookies and candy, watching Christmas shows, going to see Santa Claus and reading Christmas stories. I remember the minute Thanksgiving dishes were done I would get so excited, I spent pretty much everyday until Christmas making crafts or anything Christmas-related.
The "miracle" is that every Christmas morning, we had so much and I don't know how she ever made it happen. I never felt we had it bad, or were poor. Looking back now, I still can't believe it and if I didn't know her any better. I'd have thought she robbed someone. I don't remember a single year being disappointed. To me, waking up to that and eating a special breakfast, you couldn't have told me I wasn't the richest person in the world.
I don't know how she did it, and I don't know how at times any of us limped through some of those years, but whenever things get awful and look hopeless, I just think about my mom working those 60 hour weeks at that little gas station, and her always having the time for my sister and I, and never letting on just how hard it was on her.
I love you, momma. Merry Christmas.