Friday, December 18, 2009


Of all the holidays we observe, the Christmas Season was Nonna's favorite. She would look forward to this time of year and loved to decorate her home with beautiful arrangements. Picking out a tree was always a family event, which us children loved to do. Southern Louisiana can be fairly warm in December, but it always seemed that on the evening we went to get our tree, it would be cold and most years, raining. I remember that mom would walk around the lot several times looking for the perfect tree, then we would load it up and head home for some hot chocolate. Several years, Henry would have to trim the top just to get it inside and us kids hated that the tree had to stand up for at least a day before we could start decorating.
Nonna took her time with the lights, she had the old fashioned type that were round with Styrofoam coating, then painstakingly put her special ornaments in just the right places. When she was finished with the decorations, our turn came with the Icicles. We loved the Icicles. but had to lay them very carefully over the ends of each branch. The end result I always believed and still do, was the prettiest Christmas tree I had ever seen.
One year, Nonna came up with a brilliant idea that would add to her enjoyment of the season. She went to a department store named Goudchaux, which was owned by the Sternburg family, in search of a nice Santa suit. Home she came and opened up the bag and pulled it out, to which Henry asked," what is that?" Nonna said "its your Santa Suit and we are going to have fun with you dressing as Santa!" Henry laughed a little, but put up no argument.
Nonna's plan was simple, Henry would get dressed on Christmas eve and she would drive him around town to friends homes and they would knock on the door and surprise the kids. Henry practiced his HO HO HO and was ready to go! After they had been to a few houses, Nonna decided to spread the joy, so if she saw a party going on , she would stop and take Henry to the front door and ring the bell. She got a kick out of the entire charade and Henry was beginning to enjoy meeting strangers as Santa!
After getting back home late one year, Nonna told Henry to walk across the street and get a bike that they had been hiding at Grandma's house. Without even thinking, off Henry went across the street, Santa suit still in place. As he was walking the bike back home, along came a gentleman who had obviously been parting in much spirited celebration. He drove past Henry and slammed on his brakes and got out of his car. His first words were " Santa? now I know I've had too much to drink, cause I'm seeing things". "Did you bring me that Shetland Pony I asked for?" to which Henry answered, " yes I did and you had better get home and tie him up, cause he is running loose in your living room!" Henry said the old drunk staggered back to his car, falling as he tried to get in, and off he drove! By the time Henry made it back home, he was in tears laughing as he tried to tell Nonna what had happened! They remembered that night for the rest of their lives, and relished the memory.
I ask you, what are you going to do this Christmas that will make lasting memories? Give it a try, for Nonna's sake and may you enjoy the Merriest of Christmas's and think of Nonna!
Love John

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