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8 December 2006
Through Holidailies, I linked to The Joy of Six, whose entry about "Christmas is Always Christmas" led me to think of some of the disconnected memories of the Christmases of my childhood. They are like snapshots that you flip through, unidentified as to year, but snippets of memory that stand out, for reasons that I am unable to identify.
I remember decorating the Christmas tree. My mother was very particular about how the lights were placed, and so nobody was allowed to touch the tree until she finished putting the lights on it--the kind of lights where if one was out, no lights on the string would work, and the hours my father spent trying to decide which bulb needed to be replaced!
I remember the "face ornament"
It was a woman's face on a jeweled ornament, which I believe was an ornament from my mother's childhood (though I could be mistaken about that). It was my favorite ornament so I always got to hang it on the tree. When Walt and I got married, my mother let me take the ornament for our first Christmas tree. Later one of the kids dropped it and it shattered. I managed to salvage pieces of it and included it in a memory box that I made for my parents years ago.
I remember the "roof rides" at The Emporium, the beautifully decorated Christmas windows with animated characters, and being terrified standing in line to see Santa...even after I was old enough to know the truth.
I remember the magic of all those wrapped boxes — Karen and I begged my mother to let us open one Christmas gift before Christmas one year. She finally allowed us to each open a gift. I chose a gift from a friend and was disappointed when it turned out to be a white piggy bank. It felt anticlimactic after all the anticipation leading up to opening the gift.
I remember the year a box was delivered from Macy*s and my mother told me that it contained things she had ordered for me. She decided to wrap it without opening the box. I bugged her about the box, which she said contained "several things." When I finally opened it on Christmas day, it was my very first camera: a Brownie box camera, which came in many pieces, the camera, the flash attachment, a box of film, a box of flash bulbs (remember those?), a wrist strap.
I remember the year of the Mary Hartline doll. I had always received a baby doll at Christmas and I longed for a "grown-up" doll, one of the glamorous dolls with real hair and fancy clothes. My adult self realizes that I probably would not have taken care of the kind of doll I dreamed about and it would not have retained its beautiful condition, so my parents were probably right in buying me a Mary Hartline doll. Mary Hartline was the female hostess on a TV program called "Super Circus" that we watched each week. She would lead the band and participate in comedy sketches with clowns.
But I remember hiding my disappointment when my glamour doll was Mary Hartline, when I had been hoping for something with a long flowing gown, something that was perhaps like Scarlett O'Hara or any other character in the historical drama movies that I enjoyed watching.
(It's probably a good thing that I was born before Barbie was thought of — I would have been a natural for Barbie ownership; I've changed since then!)
I remember baking cookies with my mother. I don't know if she made cookies every year or not, but I remember making thumbprint cookies one year, balls of dough rolled in chopped walnuts, with holes punched into them and then filled with jam before baking.
And I remember "goodness sake" cookies which I now know are really called Mexican wedding cakes, rich buttery cookies filled with chopped pecans and rolled in powdered sugar--they were always my favorites.
(My best Christmas memories are, not surprisingly, filled with food memories!)
I remember taking some of those fresh-baked cookies and putting them on the window sill of the "light well" where Santa entered the house. We didn't have a fireplace, so he came down in the space between our building the the building next to it and he climbed out the window. He frequently left cookie crumbs on the floor next to the window before he left. I guess Mrs. Claus never taught him how to be neat when he left a place.
I remember the year that I crept to my bedroom door in the middle of the night and swore that I heard Santa saying "ho, ho, ho." I was terrified and crept back to bed so he wouldn't know that I was awake.
I remember my father making egg nog one year. He made it from scratch and it was rich and thick and sweet and I loved it. I probably got "virgin egg nog." I've never been able to recreate that taste again, but I remember it had whipped egg whites and real cream in it.
I remember Uncle Fred, who always showed up for every family dinner with a 2 pound box of See's candies. After dessert we would sit at the dining room table and pass the box of chocolates around. My grandmother could read the identification squibbles on top of the candies and always knew what was inside them, so I learned it too. I still remember lots of them.
I remember how every Christmas we would all start out sitting in the living room with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and then, one by one, as my grandmother's voice and complaints and put-downs droned on and on, my mother, father, sister and I would, one by one, retreat to the kitchen to escape that voice. She'd go in to "check on dinner." I would get up to help clear something away. So would Karen. My father would saunter in to fill his drink glass and just never return. We'd all be sitting around the kitchen table talking about my grandmother. "Go back in there!" my mother would hiss, saying it wasn't right to leave my grandmother alone with my grandfather and his brother. But we usually did.
Mostly I remember that we were always together, for better or for worse. There are worse Christmas memories to have!
Featured Holidailies Entry: I'm going to try to feature a Holidailies entry here each day, to give some visibility to my fellow bloggers and perhaps point you to something fun to read that you may not otherwise have access to.
Today's featured entry is Sexism Saved Humanity from Coyote Underground. Go have a good giggle.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2444