Vonda Paige and Monice Mitchell Simms

Recorded December 18, 2011 Archived December 18, 2011 40:48 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby008758


Vonda Paige (47) talks with her friend, Monice Mitchell Simms (40), about their Christmas memories.

Subject Log / Time Code

VP grew up in Gainsville, VA which she describes as "the country." There was always snow on Christmas.
VP and MMS talk about making gift for their mother when they were in elementary school.
On Christmas day VP would get up at 5 in the morning. Her gifts were not wrapped but placed under the Christmas tree.
Both VP and MMS share with each other when Santa stopped existing.
IN VP's house it was always a real Christmas tree. In MMS' house it was always fake and white.
Both talk about what Christmas is like now.


  • Vonda Paige
  • Monice Mitchell Simms

Recording Location

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type




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00:02 Hi, this is monice Mitchell Simms. Today is December 18th, 2011 on age 40 Wu and we're Los Angeles, California, and I'm talking to my friend Father.

00:13 Hi, this is Vonda page. I'm 47.

00:17 This is December 18th, 2011 where in Los Angeles and I'm talking to my friend monice Mitchell Simms. This is going to be a problem. I know I have you where I want you you have to answer questions. What is that going to be like? Okay, but it's Christmas time right about Christmas on the wager on drive over here. So, you know, you were sharing a Christmas stories. So we had to look at mamas in two different Christmases. So why don't you tell me about your mama and your Christmas?

00:59 So my mom Christmas is family in decorations wants everybody to have fun and we put up a Christmas tree and she'll ask us what time is for you we want and we would tell her we don't want lights on the tree use all of our old-fashioned bulbs. She makes dinner.

01:30 Sounds like fun at your house.

01:37 Anthony Grill Parcells every Christmas. We never knew what we were going to get but it was always a lot of fun and she would always just make the best of it. I remember we will look to the Sears catalog and pick out the toy robot pictures and Imagining the toys. We actually get it cuz when I got that easy bake oven it wasn't so much easier and it wasn't so much bacon.

02:24 It was a lot more fun thinking about the kinds of gifts. And again, I remember 119. My mom said that my brother got a woke up. He's used to sleepwalk a lot in this isn't he is about maybe 6 or something and he woke up and walk down while she was putting the toys out and he looked around and she's like, okay go back to bed and you can look around again. And you finally he just went back to bed. He didn't remember any of that. Wow, that's crazy and you grew up in the country cuz I know you looking all fly right now people don't don't know if she will Country View Drive not a Roxy flip-flops.

03:17 When we lived in the woods, we played in the woods and then when it snowed freaks me out with people get so upset about snow special in DC. But I remember when it would snow it would drift 7 8 10 in and we would be in the Woods by Little House on the Prairie three days waiting for the snow plow to come. Oh, no rush to get bread. Nothing that we lived at.

03:49 Cooper 3 weeks

03:55 In Prince William County, Virginia to Gainesville, Virginia is a little town.

04:02 Kingsville machine games are okay cows the road just don't say any more animals cuz I might do I might do them. A lot of fun. Christmas is cold here in California.

04:28 You don't feel right do it is no snow or is that fake snow at the Grove that tastes like soap detergent? Don't look right?

04:43 Decorations don't look round perfect. Perfect right to be like movie ready. So the lights all working.

05:02 I'm wrong. Sometimes the wind would blow and the reef do we have on the door with the flap? You know? Oh, wow. Wow, you haven't nailed down. I didn't matter cuz the wind the wind was so high, Crofton. Well, well Christmas time, Gainesville, Virginia. So you say you like looking through Sears and Roebuck in real life. So what kind of gift should you and your your brother give your mom? I mean, did y'all make it homemade? I remember once, you know first grade.

06:02 Toilet paper Santa Claus remix snowman best thing. You have a song Put it on the tree.

06:20 I remember one year is when I started to grow up. I was about 10 going to the store using my allowance. I buy my mom a salt and pepper shakers. It was on a

06:35 It was like a

06:38 Is BlackBerry like fruit but it's like a viable design like a Vine. So when Barry was salt and pepper.

06:49 Thought you were doing something and he was like $3, but I didn't know the tax then and it was packed. So I got up there and have only had a $3 in the lady at the register. She was like, you know, you need to ask these kids coming in. Like I am I poor mom had to rush up in front of the line and pay the taxes.

07:15 She kept after you for years. So did you wrap it up and comic book paper, Street paper? Did you wrap it? I mean she bought she pay for it. So, you know, you know how kids rap stuff.

07:42 You know after we got sophisticated we got to take that, you know, you can't see it before that. It was old school rap wrapping paper and wrap it around it and then tied with ribbon and just hand it to her like here, That's how I used to do.

08:07 Wow, that's okay shot and paper. So what you with your brother getting you know, what did he buy anything special? You remember get that he ever gave your mama.

08:17 Napa it is always he never had any money is always like I don't have to give him money and you can get Mom something for Christmas. I don't know.

08:29 Make sure he did the right thing by man was my brother got both. Got bikes. That was a big deal because I buy that you get with a girl and you have a basket on the Haunted Tours flowers and Flower Basket and it had to lose those Stringer Stringer.

09:09 That's why we can never get skates. We on skates, but we know that that's a problem. That's a problem. So y'all do the skate to you know, any dirt in the woods in the what they got going and thought about that bike or the salt and pepper shakers that you bought your mama, but it's like and she kept it forever. But that goes away but the memory stays in your mind that's really would like, you know gifts and Christmas should be about today see that lady at the cash register cuz she was mad pissed off now I think about it as an adult she was probably

10:09 Banana coffee if you have enough money again, I am not getting paid enough for this.

10:27 I can remember remember that and then trying to figure out like how to

10:39 Like I had asked him what you want what you wanted you think?

10:49 How much do you like that perfume? Jeannete by then? I had a little more money. I might have been 15.

11:11 Who am I?

11:15 I got to go get an extra used yesterday.

11:20 Your mom smell good in ginataang. That was the way it smell good for back in the day. But what you get your mama now, I mean no no, no.

11:40 Her list is

11:45 A lot more focused

11:48 And I have a little more money. Make sure I get to text. My mom likes she likes practical just cuz she likes to be able to use it. But now I can get your mom. You can never I give him a no can repay the debt to Karen you for 9 months and then raising you I call my mother at least once a week and thank you for not killing me when I was when I was a teenager. It was still 13 to 17 was rough. I'm so glad she didn't.

12:29 What's your Christmas gift going to be and she lives in Walgreens? So I just get her a gift card to Walgreens. This is just have fun. Oh my God, I mean one year me and real but Mama a flat screen TV, cuz the TV was just going to put your tube. You couldn't even see it. It's like, you know exercising like shadows and I like Mommy need to be so we bought a flat screen.

12:56 Hey, but when I got it at Walgreens Hart $50 Walgreen card. She was she didn't stop talking about that for a year.

13:04 Flat screen TV Walgreens gift card, cuz she loved it.

13:12 I know I know so you can't you can't think about okay, I like Walgreens, but you know, okay my mother and she's always there is always a sale on something. You never know. I don't know. I don't know. Everything Walgreens is her store. So she's easy stuff like that in my price range.

13:39 So, what did you get for Christmas when you were little?

13:43 Let me see.

13:45 I'm a lot of stuff you can cuz I'm a writer so I was wondering little corny poems make her mama books this mommy. I love you because and drawing pictures and frame. I was doing stuff like that real cuz she kept all that corny stuff, you know you how you make dolls out of toothpicks and I would do that that type of stuff.

14:12 I'm so sorry Mama. There's so much more that stuff is like activities that we would do for like a foot rub spaghetti dinner. I'll wash the dishes. You asking you actually did that I heard about doing that little pictures of me washing dishes, you know stuff like that and she knew everything on them coupons girl just come out nowhere and I want my foot rub today and she had to give a foot rub. She get the whole book.

14:52 Wow, that was one thing the first person I know who actually did the book and the person you called.

15:03 So we did that one year for Christmas. And at first she didn't know what it was. She's looking at life. So this is just a picture of you doing dishes and give me a

15:14 You can remember what it was like. Yeah, but this used it and we did it and she's like all so you can keep your party.

15:24 Who you are about my sister was 7 so we have fun. We had of course, you know, you take off all your laundry and write it up and draw pictures and staple it and make it all decorative and then she redeem them all in like a week, but it didn't matter if it was the thought that counted cuz I was like we should do because she's so tired all the time you do stuff for and that was a gift to her.

15:53 Till Christmas Day what time y'all get out? What time did you get up in the morning with what time we did? Okay, okay.

16:18 Play so hard.

16:25 Tree

16:27 Anna Christmas breakfast when you got up that early

16:33 You got breakfast. Well, yeah, it was always almost pancakes Cheerios Cheerios Cold Cereal, please click right and accessible. Okay for breakfast. She was just too tired because this is before she made Star wrapping our own gifts. She will be up all night wrapping gifts. So then we would get up at 5 in the morning and I should be sleeping on the couch like grains. You take naps in between us opening is and then she would go to bed and we always go back to bed. I get back up to about 11.

17:16 Okay, but you can't wrap your own gift. Why your mama do that? She spent most of her time and we were younger wrapping all I gets herself cuz my mom and dad divorce. It was just her and she got to the point when I was about 10. She's like, okay. Look you guys want some wrapping your own gifts and we were like, I don't know if we supposed to do that because it's Saturday. Is looking for you but it stopped assistant for me when I had to write my own gifts and it was a lot of them and she put our names on the boxes. And then after I getting smarter, the boxes not like this discrepancy.

17:55 Why does June have more gets to me and understand? I'm not rapping anymore of her cuz she has more just to me.

18:02 So and you can wrap them where you wanted to like I said before like I just wrap it up and put a string around. It had to be wrapped. Like, you know, it was a Sears and Roebuck like it was underneath their tree so I could have been a professional gift wrapper at the age of 10.

18:16 With The Bold and the Beautiful days. I never understand why she did it was devastating.

18:37 Wrapping gifts

18:47 I see on TV tonight. I don't know if it's really not cuz you never know that when kids come downstairs. Sometimes at Toys are set out but then but some people are now wrapping up. Our toys were never rapped there always set out. Oh you almost smart. It was always like oh, no, you know big man came to town because if that was the

19:13 Olympic games where do I go to First and my brother got a racetrack in the guys going wild?

19:29 Do we didn't only when we got older did you start that had gifts that were wrapped with toys? That's the deal. We got a lot of clothes. My mother didn't really buy toys for us cuz she was like, I ain't got time to buy a new toys on my daddy will buy him or whatever but she was all about the clothes so we didn't get a lot of money. I'll get it Barbie doll every Christmas. But other than that, I'm bored Games. Nobody wants that for Christmas board games, and I got a lot of books.

20:12 Well, okay now when is Santa disappear in your life is a devastating story cuz I got one.

20:22 I can't I don't know when exactly I can't remember when.

20:31 But I don't think my mom never said it. I just knew it was realized that it wasn't and then

20:44 In a minute cuz they mad cuz you can give me ain't.

20:52 Hayden Hayden Hayden Hayden bad kids. I don't remember. When did you have stockings go we would have stopped it. She will put little things in the stockings. That wasn't that was the bishop ain't no big thing was on the tree but we have stocking cuz it was a lot of stuff in the store. We didn't want a lot of stuff is mustake. What did you get fruit and nuts and stuff. Yes candy canes and the Hershey's Kiss they would make it white chocolate Hershey's kiss girl you get that, you know by the time

21:52 I remember.

21:55 I think when I think I was in high school, I think it was just that I'm not doing so I can still more so she was over it. We wanted them not so much for us. But we wanted to put stuff in her stocking cyst. Did you put them up? So she reluctantly pull them all out and put them up. I don't know why but nice dog names Berkeley staff color-coordinated we can handle my name's mama didn't really get into this talking so much and it went when I knew that there was the phone calls anymore cuz I was always there Bright live for coach's kid. I start to recognize that Santa's handwriting let the awful lot like mine.

22:43 Myself a little while and then one one Christmas. I found a Christmas gifts a bunch of them in the basement in the in the cupboard in the storage area that day. I know why I was back there. I shouldn't mind my business. I was back there and I saw all these gifts that she been stashing away. You know what you got no more throughout the year and I'm like why their gifts in here and it's April and I was like snow is coming to our house like, you know every other week or so, then what's going on and my sister found it and she found her bike and she was riding around the bike in the basement. I cannot see if she riding mountain bike in the basement. I was think you got tell Mama you got to tell Mama that you found her Christmas gifts like why

23:40 No.

23:41 Your sister who is the attorney today?

23:46 Exactly the attorney the attorney was trying to get over it and then we had to go upstairs and I told her I said sit to tell mama what happened.

23:56 I found my bike and I was like you found what that Mama told you found what I don't know. We were in the basement. Well, I guess you're old enough now to know that there is no Santa Claus and you like but you are still be out Santa Claus, right? And that was over like I don't really care if there's some random man coming to my house down a chimney.

24:28 I know when time my mom said she forgot to eat the cookies and my brothers have what's up with the cookies?

24:43 That's funny. You say that you made up some story or something something that she said but you know, I should have known that the Santa thing was a hoax because my mother didn't like milk and cookies. She like Coca-Cola.

24:59 Potato chips

25:01 I want to hear you sing ask me.

25:07 Have you guys put out something different for Christmas this year?

25:24 Well, he gets tired of that. She was tripping.

25:43 Does Ross do me like that Sam? I Am. I just have this because of her?

25:56 But that's Christmas. That was Christmas going up in Detroit. I didn't grow up in the Backwoods of Virginia.

26:04 I had all these shoes I wouldn't wait for my snow snow be plowed all the type of stuff and having to go shopping for 3 days. I live in the metropolitan City. But I remember when you make Jamaican fruits and nuts like a different people would bring us when we get fruit baskets. That was a thing to get like you don't know be a fruit basket that like my neighbors or virtual storage or people not my uncle's worked for that would be the Gift of Gab like they was getting maybe a turkey or ham and turkey or ham and and then like a big old at never ate so many oranges between December and January. I remember always on the table. We always have oranges and apples and walnuts and always Brazilian nuts and

27:04 And in all these types of what was the other nuts, you have to crack your the crack of my butt is what type of nuts in my Granny love the most you just sit there and eat them until she just got sick at the time. But yeah, that's where big around Christmas and peppermint in candy canes. I don't know why I can't unlove any other time of year and came down the Christmas tree. That was something that she would let us do when we were small like we were decorating tree. We put candy canes on it with the candy canes in the name of the rat in a rat graphic hits.

27:51 A rectangular tubing hands learning what year we put candy canes on the in a melted somehow. I don't know how I don't know how to communicate about the baby was too close to the fireplace at the candy canes. Nothing on my mama's good tree. You have an apple tree or I'll absolutely

28:24 Oh, yeah, you know with snow on it, you know. All right, when I put it in a little thing and oh wow. Oh, yeah, like, you know, you know that I saw it on TV, but I've never had a boyfriend. I never had an apple tree and it was green growing up my Christmas tree.

28:56 I don't think it was only one. I always thought that that's the color Cooper Tree 1000.

29:18 I mean now my mother has green she switched over to our natural now is all green but still fake is still a fake tree. Wow, Christmas and Christmas.

29:33 Chop down trees in Detroit. Really? I'm sorry.

29:47 I'm sorry that you didn't know that the tree was we didn't even let her put electric lights on until like the 80s so you can see from the outside through the window now really old fashioned balls that have been passed out from her grandmother and then you just really

30:19 Nice ornament for mom needs, you know every year.

30:26 Cuz she always had different different look, you know, she's always trying something different. We might have a couple bucks in my last minute, but usually like like the color is red this year or next year two colors going to be silver and gold so she was at the strip. So we be getting different. Looking at me like that.

30:46 Put in a homemade homemade Christmas decorations off of get back. You know how you make it look like you were saying Santa Claus and I don't know I'll bring them here. It would not make it to the tree cuz she had an idea her tree was like it was like Perfection you don't mess with her tree. It was her tree.

31:10 I'm sorry, I'll never decorated Christmas tree of my own but I'm fine with that. I'm just I'm damaged.

31:27 I only had a tree once but it didn't feel like

31:31 Christmas gifts until what happened gets under it, but

31:38 Is it better? This is better going home for Christmas is only only one year that I haven't been home for Christmas and I was last year and I was miserable so

31:52 Because it's all about family and it's particularly more fun when they are kids around. I mean grown folks Christmas is not the same as kids Christmas coz how you getting there. You know closer Walgreen cards is not exactly magical. You know, now that my mother has my two nieces. She just going Buckwild with the gifts and crazy Christmas again, you know before I'm out here my sister was in DC for lost time in Chicago, but now she's back in Detroit. So our family was scattered and we kind of just come together for Christmas just to eat but it really wasn't fun. But not of my nieces are 8 and 6 and they really understand Christmas is but wow, just give us all over the place. That's what Crystal should be about it now because I have some cousins who are still little kids. So we are kind of gear that your guests to them and one of my cousins she said,

32:51 At manipulation

32:55 He he was fat. She will start playing in the season July about Wells and then last year. She wanted thing called a DS. I have no idea what is indeed, but she asked my mom to get her for her over my mom look for it. You can find it.

33:22 And so her grandmother, she asked her grandmother, so

33:28 Aaron is my mother's great niece. So she lives with her mother and father in Culpeper, Virginia, which is about 40 minutes from Manassas.

33:42 Stole

33:44 Aaron waited all day.

33:49 Is asking everybody so she went to her grandmother's house on a diet side. No DS she opened up her gifts at her house going to your grandmother's house with my aunt know what the ass. So she's asking all day long. It's fine. We get to the house.

34:15 Just drop off the gifts. We don't open gifts right away. We just started we put them on the tree and everybody's like catching up. We've eaten all day mean all day until we decide chit-chatting and dad is talking and she goes through besides changing gas stations on pins and needles and finally she opens again.

34:42 And she starts crying. Oh my God.

34:46 And then open it up and see play it. It wouldn't let anybody touch it. I asked if I can play it. No.

35:09 And does she still have that talk to this day? He has it but it's broken will cuz you play this year this year. It's been I think it's Baby Alive. She didn't plan that see Baby Alive.

35:29 Okay, it's you the best but you got a plan to see you. So you gifts.

35:35 So I'm that's good. I mean, I don't have anything. I've been blind planning a seasonal to keep asking me he's going to buy me a bra. This is what happens when you get older. This is what you get for Christmas.

35:47 Updated iPod money's computer last year. I was able to email her. Oh, wow. I didn't think about that. I mean I could use one but

36:08 I know I'm planning a surprise.

36:16 Even better is not the time not pay them before.

36:26 Well, this is the you heading back on Saturday. Is your mom still in the country?

36:33 I can move the little to City. Okay.

36:46 On the dirt road on the dirt road with the gravel. Okay. Well, that's that should be interesting if no snow there now, but that may change for it to come what you want to know ya just for Christmas.

37:11 Not nobody nobody for me. But no. I'm so over snow. That's a whole nother conversation. I was no I shovel I'm good.

37:27 Yeah, it's no. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and it's not pretty argue with you on that. Don't look like Virginia's no, no. No, it doesn't at all. But I'm glad you're going home for Christmas. We have a whole marathon of cartoons. We watch two grown-ass people watching Christmas cartoons and eating chocolate chip cookies. That's what we do because I don't go home for Christmas anymore. I go home for Thanksgiving. And so we spend Christmas day just watching cartoons, and we exchanged her little gifts and mostly we go shopping after Christmas cuz we get some deals and we don't wrap them because I'm not into wrapping gifts anymore.

38:19 I'll cook something to eat and then we'll be just spending all day in the house. That's the best Christmases now. That's my version of Christmas and I still got to look for some wrapping paper with the whole week when we became African American guy looking for wrapping paper with the black Santa Claus came by the 80s.

38:57 Play Santa Claus wrapping paper something with that.

39:09 BP

39:14 I told you so this was this was fun talking to you. I got you to talk about stuff you want to spend talked about?

39:30 That's fine with the Barbies that you got Barbies Barbies, but

39:40 And I like them but I really can work with your hair and then I think about it. It was about the hair and now I had like 20 Barbie dolls all different types. I did soap operas. My Barbie dolls in different type of deal. I don't think I ever got a can.

39:58 Yeah, I got ahead of Michael Jackson.

40:17 So you go ahead have fun in Virginia and the country with your family life. Yes, please don't Christmas is one of the best. All right. Thank you though. I'll check it out.