Yesterday’s celebrations reminded me of something. And I thought “Who will tell these stories to my daughter one day? I better write it down!” So here it goes!
Once upon a time when my parents were still living and we all got together for the holidays we had a family tradition that we shared in the evening on Christmas…the telling of the “Christymas Story”.I was born at 4:08am on December 26th in 1962. The family was living in Dallas Texas at the time. (side note: And while living in Dallas in November of 1963 I was NOT the baby on the knoll.) This included My Mom and Dad and my sisters Suda and Mimi, 12 and 10 years old respectively. My Grandparents also happened to be visiting from Memphis TN for the holidays. On subsequent holidays they all took their part in telling the story.
Apparently I was a bit overdue. Yes folks…I started out LATE and have never corrected the flaw. SO…all the days preceding Christmas if my mother sneezed during the night my father jumped out of bed ready to take her to the hospital. That night/early morning my mother’s labor started. She got up walked around and attempted to wake my father. “Jack…I’m having the baby!” He told her he was getting up and she preceded to shower, shave her legs and pack for the hospital. When she was done she checked and my father was still asleep. After nudging and nudging him she finally exclaimed “JACK! Do I have to wake up my FATHER to take me to the hospital?!!!” The potential wrath of Harry Sr. woke Dad up with a flash and he wrapped my mother in her coat with the fur collar and proceeded to take her from Richardson (A suburb of Dallas) to Baylor University Hospital. He, of course, drove the speed limit and stopped at every stop on the empty streets at after 3am while my mother pushed her feet through the floorboards. Until finally she said in her best “Betty Strong House” manner “Jack…unless YOU want to deliver this baby you had best get a move on. I will pay any tickets!” They arrived at the hospital, the hospital tried to ask a bunch of questions, my father shouted “My wife is having the baby!!!”. They wheeled my mother back and some nurse offered her a pain killer. My mother refused (She hated the feeling ANY painkiller gave her) and the nurse said, “You are going to want this later and I won’t be around!” My mother said, “I’ll take that chance.” My arrival was so rapid that I was delivered by an intern because the doctor couldn’t make it. I was his first. He said, “Mrs. House you have a beautiful, healthy, baby girl.” My mother responded, “Where is my boy?” As the 3rd of 3 girls and 10 years late (My sisters said that the only argument they could remember my parents having was my father saying “But you CAN’T be PREGNANT?!!!!”….that was me.) I was their last chance to have a boy. They saw us to our room and Mom fell asleep.
She was planning to name me Jacqueline after Jack, my father. My father had a deep seated objection to “Juniors” of any kind. He believed it set up unreasonable expectations for the offspring. (He had been named Wiley Jackson after his father George Wiley.) So at 4:20am he drove home…wrote “Christy Carol” on all the birth announcements and MAILED them before my Mother woke up. So…she had to go with Christy or call all her friends and explain why my name was really Jacqueline. He went back to the hospital. This is where the fun starts. It seems my sister Mimi had seen them leave for the hospital early in the morning. At breakfast she told Grandma Emma and Grandpa Harry “Mom had the baby last night!”. They told her she was mistaken. A discussion ensued. Finally Emma asked “Well then honey what coat was Mom wearing?” Mimi said, “The one with the fur collar!” Grandma immediately went to the closet and brought the coat in as evidence. (It seems Jackson had brought it home with him that morning.) Much crying and protesting ensued until Dad called from the hospital to give them the news….a baby girl had been born that day. Suda immediately said, “A GIRL???? OH NO!!!” She didn’t speak to my mother for about 2 weeks after that because I wasn’t the little brother she had wanted. (She already had a baby sister and knew what they were about!)
My mother’s irritation had to due with a Christmas stocking. All the babies actually born on the 25th were sent home in a Christmas stocking. I had only missed it by a little over 4 hours BUT the hospital refused to give her a stocking to take me home in. Thus we see the start of my endless battles with “the MAN” at their roots, fueled by my brilliant and beautiful mother who always wanted me to get MORE than I deserved.
And so the Saga begins. I had my share of creatures and wise men (and women) in attendance. And while far from a manger the house in Richardson was as good a place as any to collect the Christymas version of Gold, Frankensince and Myrhh. Not “The Greatest Story Ever Told” but it’s all mine. And as Wiley Jackson House said, “From the day you were born no one could tell you anything.” A prophet? Yes…he most certainly was.