The whole house would be swirling with the scent of pine and butter from her green-and-red-sprinkled holiday sugar cookies. The house filling up with drop-ins and carolers. I’m not kidding, it was Christmas central over at the old barn. Everyone came by for a drink!
In step with all that, Mom could wrap a present. Her painstaking efforts produced some of the most beautifully-wrapped gifts you have ever seen. Mom liked to get all of this done by December 1st or thereabouts, so Christmas seemed to go on for an eternity. When we were small, the presents were put under the tree on Christmas Eve, but as we got a little older Mom started to pile them up two weeks before, and there they sat. Calling to us and torturing us, and one year it just got to be too much. While our mother was away, my sister and I just couldn’t take it. We cracked. We decided to open just one, take a peek, and tape it back up. She’ll never know. Well one turned into the whole lot and before we knew it we had opened them all. I guess the rewrapping tape job we did was the dead giveaway, because it took about two seconds for Mom to notice what had happened. When I caught wind of what was going down I slunk off into my room and just went to sleep and left my sister to take the heat - and heat she took. Mom's punishment was that we had to open up all our presents right then, and my sister's best present, her new yellow Fuji ten speed, was chained up in the driveway, unable to be ridden, for a long long time. I don’t remember what happened to me. I was younger so I probably weaseled out of any serious "Mommy Dearest” scenario, but I do remember it was a Black Christmas that year.