The First Noel? Not Exactly


Pretty and me – our first Christmas

In the wake of the most devastating attack against the United States since Pearl Harbor, Pretty and I shared our first Christmas in the home we’d bought when we moved in together in the summer of 2001. The entire world changed after the 9-11 act of terrorism in New York City and, while Pretty and I were as devastated as the rest of the nation, I have to say that nothing dampened our happiness as we prepared for the holidays.

Pretty loves Christmas, and she decked the halls and walls and everything else she could find to deck with holiday trimmings – the house was a sea of vibrant red and green and silver and gold  colors, and the packages were carefully wrapped in beautiful papers to match the thoughtfulness of every gift she bought.

I, on the other hand, lost my love of Christmas somewhere along the way in my life with my “lost saints and childhood faith,” to quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but my love of Pretty was fresh and new and as shiny as the ornaments on our tree so the smile on my face in the picture captures my emotions perfectly.

Our older dogs Annie (Pretty had her from a previous relationship)and Sassy (ditto for me from my ex) and our new “together” puppy Red were having a fun time adjusting to their new home and to each other, but they seemed to sense the additional excitement in the air during the holiday season. They were as busy as little bees buzzing around the tree and presents – sniffing to beat the band.

My mother Granny Selma flew in from Texas to spend a few days and spent a great deal of her time wandering around the house looking for the stairs and/or worrying about the one king-sized bed in our bedroom. She also was a good one for counting the dogs when we were all in the kitchen sitting on stools at the island in the middle of the room.

One… two… three dogs, she would count out loud and I’d say that’s right, Mom, three dogs. No more. No less. As I look back, I can see the beginning of her dementia at that Christmas visit, but I chose to ignore those early signs.

Pretty’s family came on Christmas day to open gifts and eat our mid-afternoon meal which was a sit-down meal in the real dining room we had in our first house. Pretty’s father, sister and son combined with my mother made for a strange mixture at that first family gathering, but they all shared a love for Pretty and me so we blended into a family that is now a part of the American fabric.


My Christmas Cactus

Fifteen Christmases later Pretty still loves the holiday season and everything that goes with it. I’m sure she has spent the week in Florida buying presents that she will need to carefully wrap this weekend while we put up our outside tree for our neighborhood association Lights of Christmas. I will help as much as I can, but I am the first to admit my limitations in decorating.

I do, however, love my Christmas cactus in my office – it stays on the front porch for most of the year but when the weather turns cold and the blooms burst into colors, I bring it in to enjoy to the max. My dad’s monkey reading the Wall St. Journal is a permanent office fixture. I think he likes the Christmas cactus, too.

Have a Merry weekend as the year winds down and the traffic revs up.

Stay tuned.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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8 Responses to The First Noel? Not Exactly

  1. Such babes! First Christmas and a lot of baggage but you did manage to make it all work. Impressive. Here’s to Pretty making it back soon with lots of presents and a good Christmas decoration hat on 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne says:

    I really enjoyed the trip back to the beginning of your shared Christmases. You too look pretty adorable and shiningly happy! OK, I had to make up a word that best suits what I see in the pic. And that monkey hahaha. Are you sure it’s not a gorilla?

    Liked by 1 person

    • When my dad died in 1976, my mom asked me to clean out his office at the school where he worked. The first thing I spotted was this creature I had given him for Christmas many years earlier. I’ve called it a monkey in my mind forever, and now I realize you are correct…it must be a gorilla.
      Good grief.
      Thanks, Luanne. I must always trust you to see clearly.

      Liked by 1 person

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