Well, not really. None of those things were true. But growing up in the small rural town of Union, SC, in the 1950s and '60s was like living in those insulated, idealized TV towns - at least until you peeled off the veneer of racism, class envy, poverty, illiteracy, sexism, crime, discrimination, etc.
One upside to my upbringing in a small southern town is that I have some very warm memories of Christmas. And I'm genuinely thankful for them.
- Going with my Dad to the "country" to cut down a Christmas tree
- Popcorn balls and pecan pie
- Waffles cooked with pecans on Christmas morning - Dad's specialty
- Totally believing in Santa Claus, for an embarrassingly long time of my life
- Leaving cookies in the den for Santa Claus
- Thinking I really heard Santa Claus on the rooftop
- Staring with wonder at the Santa and reindeer set that my parents put out on the living room coffee table
- (OK, you get the idea; Santa was a big deal)
- Keeping a fire going in the fireplace
- Impatiently waiting for the grandmothers to arrive so we could begin opening presents
- A new bike almost every year (complete with banana seat, raised handlebars, etc.)
- Wishing for a white Christmas that never came (it seemed to rain every year)
- Watching tons of corny Christmas TV specials with my parents (Andy Williams, Mitch Miller, Sonny and Cher... sheesh!)
- The annual Christmas service at our First Presbyterian Church (here's a shout-out to Mr. Nabors, our faithful organist)
- Walking the neighborhood and looking at everyone's Christmas decorations (our neighborhood gave prizes for the best exhibits, and Dad entered something creative every year)
- Seeing Main Street decked out in lights
- The annual Christmas parade, which featured my Cub Scout troop, Miss Union High, the Shriners, the marching band from the "black" high school - oh, and Santa always brought up the rear
My parents are both gone now, but I'll say a belated thank-you anyway for all they did to create special Christmas memories.