Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas without Santa Claus

Poverty pervades the stories of North Georgia and of the American South. Poverty has shaped the life of Southern Muse, though in no way has my life been poor. The feeling of poverty came instead in stories that were told to us. It came to us as a fear from our parents. A fear that the Great Depression would return. The Depression, more than anything else, shaped the lives of the people of Franklin D. Roosevelt's generation. Those who were touched by The Great Depression in childhood never escaped it, quite. They passed those fears on to their children, and even their grandchildren, the child of the cellphone and big-screen TV, as hard as that might be to fathom. Here's a story that my aunt once told me.

She had been taken in. Her own parents were in dire straits, partly of their own making. Their parents took in my aunt and her two brothers. They stayed in a little lean-to in the small house, along with their cousin, Bill, who had also been taken in. That Christmas, their father came to them and told them there would be no Santa Claus that Christmas. Times were just too hard. They noticed, though, that Bill's daddy didn't tell him that. So they wondered about it. Santa Claus might, they thought ~ he might just come anyway. Christmas Eve, they waited and wondered. Would Santa Claus come? They finally fell asleep.

Christmas morning, they awoke and looked around eagerly. Sure enough, Bill's side of the lean-to had a little red wagon. It was a Radio Flyer, no doubt. Sadly, their side of the lean-to had nothing. Not a sugarplum. Not an orange. Not a shiny new penny. Nothing.

1 comment:

ET said...

I didn't know I was poor until my 4th grade teacher told me.