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Christmas Brooms

Christmas Brooms

Christmas is always a happy time. Just the thoughts of trees, decorations, crisp air, and above all, children’s anticipation make the season. Of course, the little man in the red suit is going to make his appointed rounds, but sometimes even a child relishes the giving of this special season.

One of the most memorable Christmases in my life happened when I was ten years old. Christmas was going to be very skinny around my house that year and of course ten year old children do not understand too well about things like being without a job and so forth.

I fully believed in Santa Claus still and I knew without a doubt that he would come to see me as usual. I even ignored the conversation between my parents about having no money whatsoever for “Dorothy’s Christmas.”

We lived on a farm in the rural south, right in the middle of the Heart of Dixie as Alabama is known. It was 1950 and the country was still getting over a war. My Dad worked out of town as a druggist and my Mom and my bachelor uncle kept the farm going.

“Don’t expect too much,” my uncle had told me. He was trying to ease the situation that “Santa” may not make it this year.

Five years later I found a Christmas card stuck in an old desk that read, “Don’t worry about the little girl’s Christmas.”

It was signed by a friend of my mother’s and the ladies club at church. But my Christmas was not what was worrying me at the time. Daddy had always given me a little money to get Mama something for Christmas and this year he had told me she didn’t want me to worry about a gift for her.

I did worry. My Dad and my Uncle could skip this year, but not having my Mama something under the tree was totally unthinkable. I fumed and stewed about it for days. What was I going to do?

I followed my Uncle around the farm making a complete nuisance of myself. I watched him make the old time sage brooms from the fluffy straw for the ladies of our community. He sold the brooms for ten cents a piece and I thought that was awful. All that work for so little.

“I even get a quarter a quart for my berries!” I said.

He just smiled. “Yeah, but you’re a kid, and the ladies are always glad to get berries in the summer. I have plenty of straw and they always needing brooms, girl.”

He cleaned the straw, tied the string, and made fat fluffy brooms very quickly. He laid them stacked on the barn floor to fluff out later. The blooms had to be shaken out to keep the brooms from making even a bigger mess when they were used.

The operation looked fairly simple to me, so I asked to learn.

My uncle had the patience of Job and so the apprenticeship began.

Suddenly, it hit me. “Why not make Mama some brooms for Christmas?” Of course, made by me!

“Well, your Mama is pretty particular about her brooms, but I think you might get several tight enough for her.”

My goal was only two brooms. It took me two days to make them to suit my uncle, much less my mother.

“Now, what in the world will I wrap them in to keep her from knowing what they are?”

My uncle just looked skyward. It was enough to him just to get them made, not worry about wrapping them.

I finally found enough tissue paper and bows to cover them and stuck them under the tree.

Mama swore she didn’t know what they were, so I was happy enough with the gift.

Christmas morning, I was astounded by all the stuff under the tree for me. The ladies club had come through with banners!

But I wanted Mama to hurry and open her brooms.

Naturally, she oohed and ahhed over the gift and still swore she never guessed. This particular incident came to mind many years later when my own children gave me a clothes basket for Christmas and I too, swore I did not know what was in it.

Mama used the old fashioned sage brooms until I was grown and married, but I did not make any more until recently. Now I make them for decoration, but they just don’t look the same. I guess my brooms now don’t have the meaning that Mama’s Christmas present did.

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