The Ottumwa Courier

December 24, 2012

Christmas a time for love, family and hilarity

Courier Staff Writer

AMES — Christmas isn’t Christmas at the Davis household without the scent of coffee brewing and orange crescent rolls baking as I roll out of bed.

Breakfast might not seem like a big deal, but it’s this small tradition that brings back such warm, loving memories from my childhood.

I grew up an only child in a small brick house in Ames with my mother and grandmother, and December was always filled with decorating cookies, making fudge and peanut brittle and watching old Christmas movies on TV.

I always wondered why my mom stayed up late Christmas Eve, why I could hear her rustling around in her room. I don’t remember a specific moment when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, but considering how terrified I was of the bearded man at the mall every winter — see the attached photo for proof — I probably wasn’t too traumatized to learn of the myth.

My holidays also wouldn’t have been the same without my two cousins: Andrew, who’s just several months older than me and is now stationed in Key West, Fla., with the U.S. Navy, and Emma, a strikingly beautiful girl four years younger than me whose fiery and outgoing personality always brought a spark to our home.

When I was 3 years old, my mom gave me a toy vacuum, and somewhere in the hubbub of gift wrap and bows, Andrew started playing with it, thinking all Christmas Day that it was his. My mom says I was so young I didn’t even realize there had been a mix-up.

Also when I was really little, we had a small Santa figurine you could wind up and he would walk around and ring a bell. One year, Santa fell over and someone accidentally stepped on him and his head popped off. But that little Santa was perseverant. Even without a head, he kept ringing that bell and waddling all over our living room.

One of my favorite traditions is piling in the car to drive around town looking at the Christmas lights everyone strings on their houses.

“Look at those darn flickerin’ lights!” I would yell out at every house.

Those six words became a bit of a catchphrase for me as a kid. Now every time my mom and I drive past any building with flashing holiday lights, one of us will inevitably yell that phrase.

The final memory I’ll leave you with is that of my late great-great-aunt, Bonnie.

Aunt Bonnie was a feisty lady, even toward the end of her life. She spoke her mind, good or bad, though usually her outbursts were hilarious for the rest of us — hilarious in the way that you have to laugh awkwardly because you’re not sure what else to do. She had no problem telling someone they needed to lose weight, flirting with one of her many doctors or telling all of us — in detail — her latest medical problem.

On one of our Christmas light ventures around town, we took Bonnie along for the ride. As we drove through downtown and past Fareway, Bonnie exclaimed, “Oh look, there’s Santa Claus standing outside Fareway!”

My mom, grandma and I looked and looked around the dark neighborhood but couldn’t find Santa anywhere. Where was she seeing him?

Finally, she points. “Right there!” We look in the direction of her outstretched finger and there, outside the grocery store, is a Coca-Cola machine.

I don’t know that we all have ever laughed so hard as when we had to explain to my extremely vision-impaired aunt that what she was seeing was not jolly old St. Nick but a vending machine.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. I hope your holiday is filled with love, family — and a dash of hilarity.