Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As we grew older some things began to change a bit but most of this remained in some form or other. Christmas began to focus more on our immediate family rather than our grandparents but we would still visit them on Christmas afternoon. Christmas dinner was moved to Mama’s and Daddy’s. We began having the traditional turkey and dressing as well as the baked ham. And Christmas gifts were exchanged after dinner.

Then traditions of our own evolved. As each of us had children and in-laws to think about we would spend one day at our parents and the other at the in-laws house. But some of these traditions remained. I still do the *updated* version of the gift bags and I still believe in Santa. I told my son that if and when he ever stopped believing in Santa Claus that his Christmas presents would stop because I wasn't getting him anything! Santa still comes on Christmas Eve after everyone is in bed asleep. Christmas dinner is still turkey and dressing with as many fixin's as I can handle. We still had lots to eat and more gifts than we needed. But most importantly we had the love of family and friends to share and enjoy.

This year my family is just my son and me. The step family has gotten so large and diversified that they cannot come this year. My brother and I are still estranged and my nieces all have families or their own. So Jason and I will share our Christmas spirit over a nice dinner and enjoy the small surprises that Santa leaves in our stockings. I am just so grateful to have him with me. He is still the light of my life.

I leave you with these parting words:

No matter how large or small your family is, enjoy them and love them and be thankful for them. Make some Christmas Traditions of your own. You may be surprised just how important they become as your children grow and move on with their lives. Even the smallest thing may be remembered as the best thing!

Merry Christmas to each of you!

Until next time....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Back to Traditions....

After lunch the kids would play outside, weather permitting, or on the enclosed back porch otherwise. The adults would sit together and talk until the kids couldn’t stand it any longer. Then we would exchange Christmas gifts.

As farmers my grandparents couldn’t afford gifts for everyone but all the kids received a “Poke” (a brown paper bag)) which contained an apple, an orange, a pear, a tangerine, pecans, and the old fashioned Stick candy in peppermint, sassafras and cloves. (How I wish I could find some of that candy again!) And no, it wasn’t individually wrapped but there were no such thing as germs back then! I think we looked forward to those sacks of goodies as much if not more than anything else we received. This is one tradition that I have continued with my own family although now I have upgraded to gift bags! I also add small gifts, candy, gum, raisins, bananas, cheese crackers and anything else that might fit!

Eventually each family would head for home. Things would be winding down and each of us would settle in to play with our gifts. Dinner would consist of leftovers and then an early night. I am sure my parents were glad to have it over with but I think they enjoyed it all as much as we did.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Traditions

On Christmas morning we would be up bright and early wanting to open the rest of our presents. Since Santa brought us all our toys and games, Mama and Daddy always got us new clothes. After breakfast we would put on new outfits while Mama packed up everything we would be taking to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house. We always spent Christmas at Grandma’s house. My paternal grandparents passed away when I was very small and I only remember one Christmas spent with Granny. I keep meaning to ask my older brother David what he remembers but I haven’t had the opportunity.

When all the food and gifts were packed in the car we headed out. My grandparents had 8 children and (ultimately) 43 grandchildren and most of them always arrived at Grandma’s house for Christmas—about half of them for lunch. So you can imagine the madness and mayhem which surrounded this. The kids ate in the large old fashioned kitchen and the adults ate in the dining room. I still don’t see how we all managed to fit but we did. My grandparents were farmers and most of their food was grown or raised by them. All the adult females would bring baskets of food to contribute to the feast so there was plenty for all of us to eat. We never had turkey back then. Christmas lunch would be comprised of baked ham, fried chicken, stewed chicken and dumplings, pork chops, potato salad (and mashed potatoes since I could not eat potato salad--Mama always looked out for me!), macaroni and cheese casserole, and as many vegetables as my aunts and Mama could manage, and of course homemade biscuits made by Grandma. These biscuits were about the size of saucers and about 2 inches high and absolutely the most wonderful biscuits ever made! I sometimes dream about them and wish Grandma was still here to make them for me. Of course, this isn't the only reason I wish she were still here.

There were also sweet potato, pecan, and lemon meringue pies as well as chocolate, coconut, pineapple and fruit cakes. And there were usually cookies of some sort. No one went hungry at Grandma’s house!

Until next time....

Friday, December 16, 2011

We interrupt these ramblings....

This year I participated once more in the Christmas Exchange on the Just a Thought Bulletin Board. I just received the most wonderful gift from my partner Nancy. I feel so very spoiled! She really went over and above. She sent me a packet of note cards, two wonderful emery boards, a spool of Christmas ribbon, a piece of Christmas fabric for finishing, a small wooden blue Finch ornament, two crocheted pot holders, a hand sewn Christmas pillow top made in the envelope style so it can be packed away easily after the holidays. She also sent me a collection of wonderful teas in their own quilted pouch (the blue one with the quilt square on top), two skeins of Needle Necessities floss in Red and Green and a beautifully made poinsettia Christmas ornament.

But I am not through yet. She also made for me a wonderful stitching set. It includes a larger pin cushion, a needle book, a scissors pocket, and a small pouch with a stitched front. And all of these were presented in a matching drawstring stitching bag!

The colors were in the aqua/turquoise/green family and was absolutely perfect for me. I still cannot believe how generous she was. Thank you so much Nancy!
I cannot wait to use these things.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Traditions Continued

Where were we? Oh yes...

The weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with school projects and practicing for the church’s Christmas pageant. All three of us kids would be in it and 98% of the time my Mama would be directing it. Practice was held every Wednesday evening and then usually after church on the Sunday before the presentation. This was something to which we always looked forward. It was held on the evening of Christmas Eve. We would all pile in the car and make the 30 minute drive to the small country church to which we belonged. All the children of the church would participate and most of us would know our parts! But it was always enjoyed by the congregation! This was followed by singing of carols and presentation of the gift bags from the church. On the way home we would sing carols or have a contest counting Christmas trees to see who could spot the most trees before we got home. When we got about a block from home Daddy would remember that we were supposed to go by my aunt and uncles house to get our Christmas gifts from them. (It never registered with us until we were much older that this was repeated every year!) Mama would have things to prepare for the next day so Daddy would drop her off at home and the rest of us would proceed to Aunt Maude’s house. (Of course, Mama was actually putting out Santa!) We would spend about an hour there opening our presents and then having a mug of hot chocolate before heading home. When we got back home Mama would meet us at the door exclaiming that while we were at church Santa had come to visit. The living room floor would be spread with toys and games of every description since there was no room under the tree and somehow we always knew which gifts were intended for each of us. We would be allowed to play for about an hour and then we were allowed (against much protestation from Mama) to open just one of our gifts from Mama and Daddy. This always turned out to be new pajamas which we wore that night.

Until next time....

BTW, Happy Birthday, Tracy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Traditions

The holiday season always tends to make me a bit retrospective and this year is no exception. Over the last few days I have been thinking a lot about Christmas traditions--especially those of my own family. So I have decided that over the next few days I will share a few thoughts and memories with you. Some of them you may even want to try for yourself. Christmas was always the favorite holiday for my Daddy. I have never seen anyone enjoy a season as much as he did. He just seemed to come alive. Mama also enjoyed it tremendously, but, of course, she had the majority of the work and preparation to handle. When I think back to Christmas my first thoughts are always of my Dad.

On the day after Thanksgiving we always got our Christmas tree. When I was very young Daddy would take us to the country and he would cut down our tree—usually a beautiful cedar. It smelled so good! (Later my Mom got one of the new silver aluminum trees with the rotating color light wheel and put all blue balls on it. After a few years we progressed to the artificial Scotch pine!) Daddy would usually end up saying a few choice words while trying to get it in the tree stand and it usually wasn't ever quite straight but Mama never complained. We would just adjust the decorations to make it appear straight! Once the tree was in the house Mama would insist on letting it “fall out” overnight. Then on Saturday we would begin the decorating. Daddy would get the decoration from the attic and Mama always put on the light strings. Then we got to help with the ornaments and tinsel. My brothers liked to just throw the tinsel on but I would very carefully lay each strand carefully in place. Whatever we did the tree always turned out beautifully. When we finished we would have a cup of cocoa and then it was time for bed. During the night many colorful presents would appear under that tree. We had a very large family and many friends with which we exchanged gifts. And by the time Christmas Eve arrived there would be so many gifts under the tree that there would hardly be room for Santa!

Until next time...