Bubble lights. Do you remember? My earliest memories of Christmas are of sitting in the dark mesmerized by colored liquid bubbling in a tiny tube, watching the light from our tree reflected in my big sister’s dark eyes. It was magical. There was also a hint of danger sizzling in the air around us. We knew that if the tubes got too hot, they might explode, releasing toxic fumes. My mother constantly reminded me not to touch, as like a moth to a flame, I inched ever closer to the tree. That sense of danger only added to their allure. We didn’t dare move from the tree because we knew our mother would turn them off after a short while, usually after we had listened to both sides of our Little Drummer Boy LP. (For those of you under the age of 50, LP stood for long playing album. Vinyl, before it was hipster cool.) When I would hear the words “I have no gift to bring, ” I would think to myself, what a wonderful gift Bubble lights would be to give to a King. Surely, those lights were the most beautiful thing we possessed. I could imagine Baby Jesus smiling at me as I proudly draped his manger in colorful bubbling tubes of light.
A couple of Christmases later, I was seven years old, and wanted nothing more than to look like the rest of my family. My mother and father had dark hair. My older sister had dark hair. My grandmother’s hair, though streaked with gray, was dark also. Baby sister was bald or I might not have believed my sister when she teasingly told me I was adopted. But having strawberry blonde hair, in a family of brunettes, emphasized that I was an outsider. Maybe I really had been adopted. Never one to sit idly by when presented with a problem, I told my mother I wanted a wig for Christmas. I might be adopted, I thought, but with the right accessories, I could happily blend in. And even if my sister Jane was just yanking my chain, a chance to look like my hero, Ann Marie, from the show That Girl, was an opportunity I wasn’t about to miss. A wig was the perfect solution. Santa’s elves could surely manage one tiny brunette wig, couldn’t they?
The memory of my mother buying a wig for me, somewhat insecure, after being knocked from my throne as youngest child by the birth of my baby sister, is a sweet one. I am still amazed that my very frugal mother spent a great deal of money on something so frivolous. But the craziest part of the story is that she let me wear it in public! I think I might have been a teensy bit strong willed. I wore that dark wig, a wedge cut (longer in the front, short in the back), with great pride to church the Sunday after Christmas. No doubt, it sat crooked on my tiny peanut head, but I thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world. The theme to That Girl played in my imagination as I walked into Sunday School, although in my mind I was walking the streets of New York. You know the song I’m talking about, admit it, you loved it, too. Diamonds, daisies, snowflakes…That Girl! Gingham, blue birds is that girl… You are probably waiting for me to trip over my two left feet and send the wig flying through the air in an appropriately ridiculous sitcom ending to this absurd chapter in my life. Sorry to disappoint. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred that day. I don’t even remember people laughing at me, although I’m sure there must have been a few snickers here and there. What I do remember is sweating a lot. Wigs are hot! The longer I wore the thing, the less enchanted with it I became. Just as my mother knew I would!
Looking back on that Christmas, the wig was not the greatest gift my mother gave me. The true gift was understanding and patience. Understanding and patience are hard things to wrap and put under a tree, but they were just what I needed that year that I was learning how to be our family’s middle child. Fifty years later, I can appreciate how very blessed I was during the years I had my mother beside me. She would pass away when I was ten, but her memory shines brightly and bubbles up inside me each holiday season when I think of all the love we shared in our short time together. Love can sometimes be dangerous, like those bubble lights on our tree, fragile, but when shared sincerely, it brings a smile to our King. Merry Christmas, everyone!
4 thoughts on “Christmas Memories 1966-1970”
I forgot that you wore it to church. I still love bubble lights too!
Very sweet memories.
What memories wigs bring back! Our mothers did love us to let us wear such funny things at such a young age…I was in seventh or eighth grade, but oh what fun!!!!
I am having fun writing down memories and thoughts I have. Going to give to the boys one day! I miss you! Thanks for reading!