Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Walk

In thinking about a Christmas memory, several come to mind. I remember my mother making us listen to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol via 78 rpm recordings each Christmas Eve, a story that should have been more interesting than it was. Of course, on Christmas Eve, pretty much nothing was as interesting as looking for Santa's feet landing on our hearth followed by all the presents I'd asked for and was confident I deserved.

I also remember another Christmas Eve when my brother set his bed on fire. Too nerdy to smoke and too smart to play with matches, Sandy decided to try to lull his excited self to sleep by reading under the covers while I slept in the next bed, having had to give up my room to Aunt Susie for the holidays. He took the shade off the lamp before he entered his private reading fort, one that unfortunately turned out to be combustible when the bare bulb met the cotton sheet. However, it seems that there wasn’t too much of a conflagration as I slept through the entire emergency. From then on, our holiday tradition was to open presents on Christmas Eve to keep my dumb-ass brother from burning the house down.

A Christmas Day memory I have is one that happened a bit later. It was 1964, I think, which made me 14, a difficult age for the holidays, too old to play with the toys Santa had brought me and too young to borrow the family car to escape from the heat produced by too much food and too many relatives. I had already received all the compliments I was going to get about how pretty I looked in my new Christmas sweater and I couldn’t watch TV because Uncle Walter was sitting in front of the television set nursing his highball. When the phone rang and my new friend, who’d just recently moved to Savannah, bemoaned her similar circumstances, we decided to get together and take a walk around the beautiful island that was our home. We met up by her house and agreed to walk down by the bluff, a gorgeous spot adorned with moss-hung oaks, genteel old homes, and quaint river docks. I wore my Christmas sweater and she wore her new navy pea coat, something I immediately added to my upcoming birthday wish list. My new friend’s name was Allison and I’d been looking for her for a quite a while, even though I hadn’t known it. I’d skipped a grade in junior high and had been at loose ends ever since, as the kids I’d played with my entire life were now a year behind me in school and we no longer seemed to have much in common.

Beginning with that Christmas walk, it didn’t take long at all for Allison and me to bind our friendship through our outlandish senses of humor, our budding liberal views, and our love for saddle oxfords. We went on to become college room-mates, bridesmaids in each others' weddings, and, years later, that same other was right there when each of our marriages ended. And then, just a few years ago, fate would intervene once again when we both had the opportunity to move to Atlanta around the same time.

And so, forty-six Christmases later, my new friend is now my old friend. Although I never got my pea coat and we no longer yearn for saddle oxfords, which, by the way, just might now work wonders in covering our bunions and veiny feet, we are still pretty darned silly and annoyingly liberal. Just ask anybody.
Still friends (and silly) after all these years.


melissa said...

Great story! You two are lucky to still have each other. But I guess your Christmas saddle oxfords won't be such a surprise now.

Anonymous said...

How beautiful. You are both so fortunate to have each other and those years of history. It's twice as much fun to remember the old days when you are talking to someone who was there. I know because I have some "long ago" friends that are still in my life. Mary B

Olga said...

You are indeed blessed to have such a long standing friend in your life. That is a fabulous picture of the two of you.

Friko said...

and jolly handsome, both of you.
Enjoy the friendship, something this cranky old unsociable curmudgeon never had.
I envy you.

Will the two of you be going for a walk this Christmas? said...

I brought some Spanish moss back to NC to see if it would grow. It died of course. The parasite only thrives in the deep South.

How nice to have kept a friend for so many years. My best girl friend in high school, Becky, married my BIL and later we divorced the brothers. Today Becky is friends with her neice, my daughter who is much more out-going than I am, but Becky still calls me from time to time when she thinks I am dying.

Annoyingly liberal? I have both kinds of friends and that keeps me tottering in the middle somewhere.

#1Nana said...

I love the picture and I'm wondering why I've never visited Savannah. It looks beautiful. You are so lucky to have maintained a friendship over so many years.

BTW There's no such thing as an annoying liberal, it's the other end of the spectrum that's really irritating!

Freda said...

A lovely story of friendship to treasure. BTW the only year I opened presents on Christmas Eve showed me that it is much more fun to wait till Christmas Day..... so that is the tradition I have passed on to my sons.

Arkansas Patti said...

That is a beautiful walk and I would take if over a room full of once a year relatives anyday. Especially in the teen years.
Wonderful that you have held on to such a dear friendship. I still talk to a friend from the second grade every week. The internet is wonderful.

Celia said...

Wonderful to have such an old friend, I envy you too. My sisters and I used to take Christmas walks after dinner by the lake near my folks house. A lovely thing to do.

Wisewebwoman said...

Old friends are the best, aren't they though? Mine has been around since we were five and we email each other every day, she's in Dublin and I stayed with her last year.
I love love love Savannah and must have missed it on my trekking through the deep south.
How fortunate you both wound up in Atlanta!

joared said...

"There are no friends like old friends" as a now-deceased friend of mine once wrote me from the Coast opposite of my own.

Pea coat reminded me of one I dearly loved that my mother made for me from my much older brother's winter Navy blues after WWII. Saddle shoes could be a pain to keep clean and not smear the white polish over the black, brown or other. I always longed for penny loafers.

cile said...

The presence of such a long standing friendship is the perfect gift. How wonderful you commemorate your companionship and have a Christmas walk to remember for a lifetime!

I Wonder Wye said...

Old friends cannot be beat...I have been thinking of Christmas past so may take a page from your book and write up some of my own.

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