On my way home from the shoe shop tonight I was remembering a Christmas from my youth. As I was growing up we traveled a lot, because of my stepfather's work. Or lack of work. We moved all the time and I went to eighteen schools before finally graduating on my eighteenth birthday, but right now, in this little story, I was only ten years old and we were on our way from Cleveland, Ohio, to Florida and we were in North Carolina, It is very cold!!
There was an icey drizzle and, as usual, we were staying in a roadside park for the night. It was the night before Christmas, in fact. Here we were... mom and pop and us four boys. Christmas Eve and we were "camping out" again. Mama was great at making the best of a rough situation. Staying in the roadside park was "camping" and packing up and moving on was "another adventure".
Well, on this Christmas Eve she found a way to make it okay once more. She removed a box from the little U-Haul trailor while Pop built a fire. Then, wouldn't you know it, it was time to decorate the tree! That's right, we picked a small pine nearby and Mama and us boys began hanging homemade decorations and throwing on the tinsel.
It was a small tree, but still too tall for me, so one of the other boys placed a star made of tin foil on the very top. There were no lights, of course, but it didn't matter this time. The night was cold and wet, but the fire was warm and the little tree was beautiful!
Mama cooked supper on the fire and fed us boys and then it was time for bed. At this time we didn't have a tent so we slept in the car. Usually it was boys in the backseat and Mom and Pop in the front seat, but not on this night. This night, Christmas Eve, mama would be able to stretch out on the front seat, instead of sitting up. Pop actually slept under the car so that Mama could rest a little easier. Now, there is a man for you!
The next morning, Christmas morning, at daylight, Pop built another fire while Mama began taking the decorations from the little tree and putting them back in the cardboard box. Then she cooked breakfast for us all and we were on the road again. I turned and watched our Christmas tree 'til it was out of sight.
"Mama", I said, "You forgot to take the star off the top of the tree!"
"I know", she said.
She smiled at me and I went back to sleep.