A Photo Story featuring "The Secretary"
One look is worth 711 words...
I can always tell how old I was in a picture by looking at my hair. This one was taken on December 25, 1984. I was in the 9th grade and my brother was in the 1st grade. In December of 1984, we had been living in this condo for six months. This was our first Christmas in the new place.
We'd never had a fireplace before. This was the first year we ever hung stockings anywhere. Since my brother still believed in Santa Claus, this was the first year we didn't have to leave the door "unlocked" for Santa to get in.
My daddy built the fires. He bought whole logs and chopped them. With the year round humidity in South Carolina you couldn't just bring wood in from outside and burn it. The pile of chopped wood had to be brought in from outside so it could dry out. The pine cones in the basket, sitting on the secretary, were used for kindling along with a little newspaper.
A few years later, he would prepare a fire for us before he went out of town. All we had to do was light it. Somehow we just ended up with smoke that wafted all the way upstairs, covering surfaces with soot.
The Christmas Tree
In the photo above was our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. We only had one or two real Christmas trees before we realized my brother was allergic to them. We never bought an artificial tree. We always used plants. In later years, this tree was moved to the front foyer to put lights on and a much bigger plant with leaves was used for the Christmas tree. We decorated with wooden toys, plastic apples and red bows. To this day, I have plastic apples and bows that I put on my artificial tree. I have never had a real Christmas tree in my adult life but my brother has.
The Grasscloth WallPaper
The fabric wall, which seemed nice when we moved in, grew dingy and dusty over the years. I am sure fireplace soot contributed to that. One time I was using some fingernail polish and forgot that I had already loosened the top when I went to shake it. The red polish splashed against the wall. It was a bloody site. Thank goodness for the grass like texture. I was able to dab at it with polish remover so it looked like nothing happened. The carpet? Not so much.
The Christmas Cards
Part of the seasonal decorating was to hang the cards on the Grasscloth wall. They started with and included birthday cards. My mom and I have back to back birthdays and we always decorated on the weekend following the 12th and 13th of December.
That sofa reminds me of a time that my parents went out and I was the babysitter. My brother was asleep while I stayed awake reading a book I pulled from the secretary. I was reading a book of short stories by Stephen King. One story was titled The Boogeyman. After finishing it, I was too scared to walk by the coat closet to go upstairs. I camped out on the sofa until mom and dad got home and told them I was waiting up.
My brother's bike was brand new that year. Years later on another Christmas he would receive it again, after it had been cleaned and spray painted. He was just as happy.
A Christmas Eve tradition was to open one gift before bed. The wrapped gift was always a new pair of pajamas and we got a new stuffed animal. You can't see my feet in the photo, but I had on footie pajamas too!
My brother and I had to wait until daddy set up the camera and started the music before we could enter the living room to open presents. We would listen to the entire album of Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas on Christmas morning.
If I were walking through an antique store, this piece of furniture would stop me in my tracks. It's my favorite thing at my mom and dad's house and I love writing from there when I visit. When inquiring as to how old it was, The Secretary became a story of its own.
As it sometimes happens with prompt writing, this post was unexpected. I was looking for a picture of when I was fourteen to tell a story with.
This was a Finish the Sentence Friday post (hosted by Kristi, Dana, and Kerri). I'd like to thank Dana for thinking up the prompt, "When I was fourteen...". While searching for a picture, I dug up a treasure - another memory.