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Black Velvet
December 16, 2012 – 3:09 pm | 17 Comments

Childhood memories are vivid, almost indescribable in their detail, and impossible to forget. A Christmas memory I have is that of a black velvet dress  a family friend gave to me for my seventh Christmas.
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We Remember It As “The Biggest Holiday Ever”

Submitted by on December 15, 2011 – 11:47 am31 Comments
alexandra rosas schultze and her brother

Alexandra and her brother, Pachito.

Magical in My Memory

My brother and I sat on the thin carpet, mouths open, eyes wide, giggling with our fingers in our mouths. It was Christmas Eve, and my entire family was sitting around our tinsel covered, brightly lit Christmas tree.

We watched as together, my mother and father pulled out what looked like the world’s largest box from behind the tree. My mother read the tag on the enormous present and my brother and I jumped up, clapping as we heard the words, “para Alejandra y Pachito, del Nino Jesus.”

In our footed pajamas, we tripped over our three other siblings and began to rip the paper that covered our gift.

“Guarden el papel!” Save the paper! my thrift minded grandmother shouted from somewhere in the background.

Her words fell on deaf ears, for we noisily tore at that paper for what seemed like an eternity. When all traces of gift wrapping were tossed aside, my brother and I jumped up and down with a joy that I am still able to feel all these years later. We had gotten it! The little spotted rocking pony that we had wished for every time we had seen it, visit after visit, at our neighborhood hardware store, was here! And it was ours!

We pulled our little bodies on board, and one behind the other, we rocked and rocked and that pony squeaked and creaked as we imagined it flying us over fields, while we held on for all we were worth.

These are the technicolor memories I have of a Christmas Eve when I was barely 3-years-old. It was the first year my father was in this country. While I was preparing for this post, I emailed my older sister to see if she had any details to add. My sister is eight years older, and she would have been 12-years-old that Christmas.

Sister Remembers Differently

Typing with excitement over the memory I hoped to share, I asked her, “Do you remember that Christmas that Pachito and I got that rocking pony we wanted so much?”

“Oh. That awful Christmas.” Her response stunned me. “Yes, yes, I do. You two had to share a present. It was Daddy’s first year in America, it was awful…we had nothing.”

I sat at the other end of the email, the wind knocked out of my memory.

“Are we talking about the same Christmas? It was wonderful. Daddy was here, we had the pony, we had the chocolate cake with pink frosting at midnight…”

“No. Don’t you remember how cold we were? Your pajamas were too small. We all had to share gifts. No one else got presents except the kids.”

“But we were so happy,” I insisted. “Daddy was dressed up in a suit and tie, and mama had on her flowered dress, and ‘buelita was cooking.”

“Daddy always wore a suit and a tie.” My sister’s email became an explanation. “Mama was pregnant and had on her only good maternity dress. And ‘buelita was always at the stove.”

Still The Best Christmas

After our email exchange was through, I sat and thought about how differently we remembered this Christmas. My sister, being older and able to understand the situation we were in, saw that Christmas through the reality of what it truly was: a struggling one.

For me, being 3-years old, I remember receiving the one thing I truly wanted. And I remember my favorite chocolate cake in the middle of a table covered with a poinsettia tablecloth. And I remember my handsome father finally being home with us.

I think of this brown pony Christmas, and it was the perfect Christmas. I didn’t notice how many presents were under the tree, I don’t remember cranky parents or long lines or fights at stores for gifts. I remember this Christmas as being magic, with a twinkling tree, and an enormous gift for my brother and I to share. And riding that pony together made it so much more fun than riding it alone could ever feel. I had my partner for our adventures.

I was a child, and my heart was bursting with the brightest, shiniest Christmas that I could imagine.

Share, por favor!

31 Comments »

  • Alexandra says:

    Can I tell you, though I’ve said ten times before: I love having found the tikitiki blog. So at home here, and all my memories being shared here, with an audience that reads between the lines. Though we didn’t have a lot, we felt the love and closeness of being cherished.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, to you, Carrie, and all the incredibly wonderful readers of TikiTiki Blog.

  • I love this story. The beauty of the world seen through the eyes of a young child.

    And I do love that picture of you Alexandra. You look so wise for your years.

    Happy Holidays!
    Alison@Mama Wants This´s last [fabulousness] ..Tasty Thursday: Lemony Cookies

    • Alexandra says:

      Thank you, A.

      I try to remember this story, and I tell myself my children really don’t need that much in the way of gifts..what they do need is to feel special and cherished. Like somebody very special.

      Thanks for stopping by, and a very, merry Christmas to you and monkey and monkey II. xo

  • brian says:

    you know…at three it was probably good that they made you feel special even in the midst of any challenge…it is interesting how you remember it differently…i hope that you and your family have a great christmas!

    • Alexandra says:

      I remember feeling like I was the prize of the family. After all, I had the largest box!

      What’s funny is that Baby E’s Xmas list this year has, “something in a big box.” Doesn’t matter what’s inside, just something in a big box.

      Merry Christmas, Brian. Thank you for your kindness this year. I truly appreciate and value it.

  • The pony memory is wonderful– so vivid in your mind’s eye. Beautifully shared. Thank you. jj

    • Alexandra says:

      Oh, thank you so much, JJ. I remember this night…even though I was just 3 years old. I remember the glitter of the tree against the darkness of the night outside. I remember the silver tinsel and the large colored bulbs that were hot to the touch.

  • What a wonderful memory! May it never be marred, and may the beauty of the pony and of that night always be yours. Thank you for sharing and letting us remember the innocent memories of long ago yesterdays. BB2U

  • Ann says:

    Isn’t it amazing how two people can experience the same thing differently? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the airport and listened to two people come of the SAME PLANE! Asked how their flight was one person would say, “Wonderful” and the very next person would say, “Awful”.

    Funny, tho. My twin brother and I have the exact same favorite Christmas! We were at my Aunts house – we traveled from California to Rhode Island jammed in a car and had an amazing trip!

    Your memories are lovely and it was a gift in itself to read!

    • Alexandra says:

      Ann, a post on this memory, or a letter to your brother about this cherished memory, would make a wonderful gift. WIth a picture of you both, if you have one. As we get older, our memories become so important..I think how they have to be documented. They’re gone when we’re gone.

      Merry Christmas, Ann, it’s been wonderful getting to know you.

  • Tracie says:

    My husband is five years older than his brother, and when they talk about their childhoods and family it sounds like they grew up in different worlds. What a difference a few years make!

    I love that you were so happy with your shared gift, and that it was in the big box. When I was little there was a year I got this huge stuffed dog, and the best part of it was that it came in the biggest box I had ever seen! My mom had to wrap it in one of those big black garbage bags (that she decorated) because it was too tall and wide for any of her wrapping paper.

  • I love this! My parents went so out of their way to make Christmas special every year and I can only just now appreciate all the effort it must have taken. This will be my first year without my Dad but I’m thankful for the memory of all those other years.

    I hope your sister got to have her magical Christmas memory on another year. Merry Christmas, Empress

    • Alexandra says:

      Chicken. I love seeing your name anywhere. Instant smile.

      I should have asked my sister that question…but I”m sure she’d say being back home in Colombia. SHe was never happy about the move here…she had so much in Colombia. But the civil war had started, and my mother had a 2 week timeframe to come to the states. And so she did. My father followed two years after.

  • Amanda says:

    Oh, Alexandra! This was so beautiful! I love you and I loved learning about this Christmas memory. I feel like you just opened my eyes and taught me something.

  • Alexandra,

    How beautiful. Sad, happy and beautiful. Funny how memories depend so much on perspective. Like stories. Thank you for telling us another one.

    • Alexandra says:

      It is true…there is magic in the very same moment that you are living in with another person. What people see, what they remember…how they feel. Tonight, I worked a huge party: EXPENSIVE MANSION. And every kid there was in his own room, and the mother just yelled and I thought: all that money, lincoln escalades in the 7 car garage…and all that misery.

      I was so happy with the biggest box in the world.

  • Ally says:

    I remember many childhood Christmases with joy. Only now, as an adult, do I realize the personal sacrifice and struggles it took my young single mother to put presents under the tree. And I’m grateful for the help she got from my grandparents. But through my child’s eyes, they were all wonderful.

  • Sweaty says:

    Honestly, the older I get, the more I understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

    Your post illustrates this so well. As we grow up, we become more mature, hopefully wiser, but at the same time we tend to ‘lose’ our faith a little. We see things with a more cynical eyes, we no longer focus on the magic of each moments; instead, we notice the imperfections and worry about limitations.

    Seen through the eyes of a child, the same experience could be viewed quite differently. As you’ve described here. Compared to your sister who were older, your child eyes and heart ‘believed’ in the magic of that moment. Which is quite similar to positive thinking, actually. We know that most things are relative. It’s mostly in our head–the way we perceive it.

    Here’s wishing you and your family a ‘magical’ Christmas, Alexandra. Not by the world’s means, but more towards what’s experienced by the heart. Love you, my dear friend.
    Sweaty´s last [fabulousness] ..Perfect Timing

    • Alexandra says:

      Sweaty…how I wish I could just sit and talk with you. The way you can see things, and understand them…it gives me chills.

      This is going to be a HUGE year for you. I’m so excited. It’s like you’re being born again.

      I am so happy for you, and deeply moved.

  • This post touches me on so many levels. As we stress out over Christmas shopping, trying to find gifts the children will love even though we have fewer dollars to spend than in years past, it’s a reminder that it doesn’t take a thousand dollars’ worth of fancy toys to create a magical Christmas memory for a child. They need so much less than we think they do, even though the stores and toy companies are working hard to convince us otherwise. Your sister’s perspective also reminds me how sensitive our older children are to the stress in our homes over finances, parents arguing behind closed doors late at night, etc. So that’s an important reminder, too, to shelter our children from adult concerns about money so they can enjoy the sugarplum dreams of childhood instead of having nightmares about family finances.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Empress!

    • Alexandra says:

      You leave some of the most wonderful comments in the blogosphere, Rebecca. Thank you so much.

      All your words here are insightful and sensitive: memories are so important to who we become. They can grow into a cushion for life, or a deep well that provides no reserve.

      Thank you for stopping by today, and leaving your kind thoughts. Merry Christmas!

  • Really great story. A beautiful reminder of the innocence of children and how parents do their best to protect them from the harsh realities of life.

  • julie says:

    I love your memories. So much.

    This one reminded me of the Christmas I got Caballo, the rocking horse I shared with my sister. (Well, I can’t swear I “shared” but I do know we just had the one horse. So.)

    I know my parents sacrificed for us, too.
    But we never knew it. And what better gift to give your children than a holiday without worry…

    We knew only the magic, not the hard word behind creating it.
    But because we had love, we had it all.

    And then some.

    • Alexandra says:

      You’re so right. I can’t remember our ponies name, all I remember, is that I can still see it, in my memory..the first hint of what was behind that wrapped paper. The white spots ont he brown pony…I remember exactly how I felt that night: RICH.

  • Amanda says:

    What a beautiful memory! Christmas really is so magical for kids, even if the reality is so different. I’m curious to know: does your brother remember it?

  • Amanda says:

    Oops, I meant *HOW* does your brother remember it?

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