Christmas with My Cousin Billy
Posted December 24, 2010on:
Christmas and My Cousin Billy
The holidays, and especially Christmas, seem to be times that bring on the memories of earlier more innocent times when life was happy and carefree, and every new day was indeed new and bright. My Christmas memories always include one person in particular. Indeed all of my childhood holiday memories could not be without this person: my Cousin Billy.
This year as I began to reminisce last evening Lew stopped me and asked an odd question. He asked how many years we had been married. When I told him his answer clarified what appeared to be an oddity. He said, “Well that’s how many times I have heard that story.” So I grinned and sheepishly changed the subject. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without my telling “that story” and since there is no one but Lew and I at home I must again call upon you Dear Readers to hear me out and make this one more complete Christmas in my long life.
As stated above my memories of my early childhood often must include my cousin Billy because he was always a prominent member of my cast. I am an only child but it never really felt that way as a child because I had my cousins and especially Billy. I was two years older than Billy but a dreamer type of child so staying young wasn’t difficult for me thus making Billy and I a perfect fit.
Billy spent a great deal of time at my house as we lived just two doors up the hill from his home. Billy was the youngest son of my father’s only sibling and sister, Aunt Pauline. The Morris’ were a large family but that was because my paternal Grandmother had married three times and had had three families of which Daddy and Aunt Pauline were the last and youngest. There were four Postle cousins: Bradley the oldest was too old to figure in my memories too much, Phyllis was next and a few years older than me and where the holiday memories were concerned she was the one who played the role of older sister who did all she could to keep the beliefs of the younger ones alive and well. Then there was Beverly the youngest of us all, and in many ways the oldest. Beverly never had much to say but just looking at her big blue eyes you knew she had shed her belief in Santa Claus and Easter Bunny along about her 4th year of life. She went along a said nothing however, just quietly listening to Billy and I chatter on trying to bolster each others beliefs.
I said that Billy and I were close and he seemed I guess as close to a brother as I would ever have. We did a lot together and had close to the same excitable imaginative personalities. What one didn’t think of the other would. If we wanted to go to the movies in town and didn’t have any money we just hit up the neighbors for pop bottles. It cost $.30 round trip on the bus and $.20 for the movie. That meant we needed to collect 50 bottles for a trip to the movie. Anything over that was greatly appreciated because it meant a treat at the concession stand. Boy you should have witnessed the negotiations and compromises in spending the six cents if that is all we had over and above the bus and ticket. A dime was much better because we could then each have a nickel. Anyhow we would go door to door in the neighborhood asking if they had any empty pop bottles we could have. B but, when we got to our houses I would go ask Aunt Pauline while Billy waited on the road and Billy would hit my Mom up while I waited outside on the road. I have no idea why we did this because the mothers certainly weren’t fooled; I guess we just felt they were less likely to say no to the one they didn’t give birth to.
We also pulled off some things we were sure our parents would not approve of and would have endured the rack before whelching on the other. One time I discovered a box of caramel candies in my mother’s dresser drawer that I then showed Billy. She was hiding this candy from us. I had a couple but they weren’t that good but Billy grabbed a handful before we decided that we had better put them back before we got caught thinking, hoping, Mom wouldn’t notice those missing. It turned out that she did notice and it became a family joke years later when she told me that she had discovered our thievery. The joke? Billy was always very tall and very thin and Mom always claimed it was the “candy” he consumed because the caramel candy was really Mom’s diet supplements called Ayds.
Billy was game for anything that resembled food. So much so in fact that he was the chief (and only) judge and appreciative jury of my first culinary attempts. Billy would gobble up the tasteless, lumpy, misshapen and pathetic cookie or what ever and pronounce them fantastic. At the same time I was always there for him too. I was the one who assured him every few months thru out his adolescent years that those few microscopic hairs on his chin were going to sprout into a full luxuriant beard any day. He would point the hairs out and I would get up close and peer at his chin and then render my verdict. Strange but we were both quite sincere with each other!
So this brings me to the point of my story: I KNEW there was a Santa Claus because my Cousin Billy actually saw him one Christmas. I believe I must have been around 7 years old and the kids at school were starting to make fun of me for believing that stuff so I really needed my faith renewed. Billy would have been about 5 or so and there of course was no doubt in his mind at all.
My Mom, Dad and I always made the rounds to our family’s homes on Christmas Eve since ours was the smallest family. We started with my Grandmothers then went on to Aunt Katy’s the farthest away and then Aunt Florence’s just 6 doors down from our home and ended up always visiting with Aunt Pauline, Uncle Red and my cousins Phyllis, Billy and Beverly. This was the longest visit and usually I excused myself sometime during the late night and went home to bed alone so that Santa could come. Of course the cousins were still up and going strong after I left. (A note here: I said I went home alone and put myself to bed which might seem odd to some of you who didn’t live in a small community in the 1940’s where no one locked their doors and my parents weren’t concerned that anyone would harm me on the short walk home even at night or after I got home and was alone until they came home. That’s just how life was then. It is a shame it had to change.)
The next morning was the usual routine: I got up discovered what Santa had left me, played with my things awhile and then got dressed and ready for breakfast. About this time every years Billy would come running up to my house to show me one of his toys and to see what I had gotten. This year was the same except this year I really looked at my toys with a bit of sadness and wondered if maybe the kids were right and my Mom and Dad had gotten these toys instead of Santa Claus leaving them for me. Then this year Billy ran into the house more excited than ever because he had a tale to tell: he had seen SANTA Clause leaving the house out the back door the night before! THEN he heard the reindeer on the roof stomping around. Proof positive that Santa was alive and well. This made my day and the holiday and I simply ignored the other kids because Billy and I knew something they didn’t. Of course we had to discuss why he would go out the back door and not up the chimney, but since there was no chimney except the one leading out from the furnace in the basement it only made sense that he would go out the door. And why were the reindeer and sleigh parked on the roof? Well, to keep the darn dogs from getting after them of course.
Years later I told Mom this story and she filled in the probable details. Many of the men in our community were deer hunters and most of them had big heavy red and black plaid Woolrich jackets for hunting but which they wore all winter. Billy had seen a late Christmas Eve visitor leaving the house most probably.
There I have told the story of My Cousin Billy and why I KNEW there was a Santa Claus so I can continue and have a merry Christmas. Thank you for listening Dear Reader
Merry Christmas and to All a Good Night!