My sister Mary told me what she wants from Santa is to spend time with her kids, so she asked them for creative ways to do stuff together.
The aisles in the market where I shop for basics like toilet paper are stacked with items from China geared to Christmas: dinnerware with snowflake motifs, wreaths woven from plastic boughs and green bulbs for your porch light.
In the candy aisle I spied a lifesaver packet I haven’t seen since I was little. It’s like an album: when you open it there are lifesaver candies on both sides.
We used to get lifesavers in our stockings; a treat since our mother forbade us from eating candy. But my sisters and I would sneak to the five-and-dime with our nickels and dimes to buy candy and gum, and then feel guilty about it.
One Christmas mother had little cash for presents and decided to sell home-made candles. I came home from school to find her in the kitchen with the electric beater, whipping up a waxen cloud that would form the base of a trio of candles. She placed little cones and greens between the candles for a merry effect.
As I was marveling at how clever she was, my mother announced that the three oldest girls would sell the creations door to door and we would have money for Christmas.
Next to having a kid pull down your pants in the school yard, this was the worst thing I could imagine. I wouldn’t dream of going to a neighbor’s house and asking her to buy candles. I lasted one rejection before darting home and refusing to leave my room.
I hope my mother recouped the funds she used to make the candles because I sure didn’t sell any. And Christmas turned out just fine, with butterscotch lifesavers and Juicy fruit gum nestled in my stocking. I just wish she has asked us for creative ways to spend time together.