Beginning today, I am going to describe personal, nostalgic memories of Christmas traditions, both in my personal life, or told to me my persons in my life of 73 years. Some days may have more memories or others, but my personal intent is seven memories per week through Dec. 31.
My family has destroyed untold 1000s of photos, mostly by my shutterbug Mother; there are few remaining photos. We siblings simply had no storage as we have much smaller homes. I have had to do the same due to severe allergies to dust, mold and mildew.
Because I am somewhat behind, I will list 10 today.
1. My parents loved being Santa Claus and could hardly wait for their children faces when we first viewed the gifts Santa had magically left while we slept. Therefore Christmas morning started at 4- 5 a.m. with a mandatory breakfast.
I loved it as I was an early bird, anyway. Even when the magic of Santa faded into reality, we bowed to my love of early breakfast on Christmas morning. I continued the tradition into my marriage for a number of years, until I realized how much more my husband enjoyed arising much, much later.
2. My first Christmas gift from my husband was Penguin chrome ice bucket, which I still have and occasionally use, despite have ice maker and dispenser available. It still works great. In the 60s instant ice cube makers and dispensers were not standard equipment on refrigerators.
3. We had turkey, ham or occasionally roast beef on Christmas Day, and usually Dad's special cornbread dressing. To date, nothing compares to his cornbread dressing. According to him, he learned to make it from his mother. He passed it on to me, but since early cooks were not, "measure" scientifically written recipe enthusiasts, its approximate proportions of cornbread to dried bread, turkey or other broth, etc. do not compute into the taste I remember from my childhood. I suspect there is magic in the fact Dad made it, in my memory.
4. Christmas Eve we put the treats out for Santa. We had a fireplace with gas logs which heated our large living room. We extinguished the logs so Santa would not be treated to a hot seat upon arrival!
5. The chimney had a metal plate loosely affixed to the lower opening, since ventilation was not required for gas logs. The wind often rattled the plate. Mother convinced us it was Santa's notice of pending arrival.
6. Dad once said his Christmases were so much less materialistic than ours. He and his 7 siblings were excited to have apples, oranges and a few pecans in their Christmas stockings.
7. Mother was raised by 2 old maid aunts. Her mother died the week after her birth from the uremic disorder which often followed childbirth, before prevention became available. Her father was an itinerant soldier and/or carpenter so relatives basically took care of his only child. The aunts moved from Kansas to Texas when she was quite small, to be near other kinsmen.
Although the aunts were relatively poor, all the relatives doted on her. One aunt took in washing and ironing. The other aunt worked in a dry goods store, and took in sewing. I remember she had dolls and stuffed toys, often handmade.
8. Besides Santa, we had a few gift-wrapped, less expensive presentsto unwrap; gift tags were from our parents. The transition to these wrapped gifts being our "main" gifts, was probably their method of transitioning Santa to the revelation of who really bought and brought those gifts.
9. As we grew older we saved our small allowance, sometime augmented by a few dollars from parents, to buy gifts for our family unit.
10. My greatest disappointment was realizing Santa was my parents. Today this revelation usually gets hashed to death on the school ground in kindergarten or first grade. However, in my day, you usually made it to about the 4th grade before either school yard banter, parents or both, revealed the truth.
The Christmas tree was located at various spots in our huge living room. One year it was placed in a corner which abutted my bedroom. Those of you who have followed my blog know I regularly fake sleep and naps. I actually have always had trouble falling asleep.
This Christmas Eve was no exception. The excitement stimulus of Christmas kept me awake. Our parents checked to see if we were asleep; as usual, I was faking it.
I heard the rustle and bustle of placing the toys under the tree; one doll cried. I KNEW. I kept the secret for a year or two, so as not to disappoint my siblings. Then my Mother took me aside and told me, but requested I not share, so my brother and sister could enjoy Santa. This is one secret I kept, because I vividly realized the immediate disappointment in knowing the truth.
Of course I later recognized Santa as a seasonal tradition of the Spirit of giving.
Photo: internet. Several Penguin ice buckets are for sale on e-Bay, if interested. Despite my item's age, it ain't worth much more than when it was purchased.