A Retro Look At Christmas for 2016
Christmas is a wonderful, spirit-filled Holiday. When I was a child the anticipation of not so much presents, but oranges, apples, tangerines, candy, fruitcake, and nuts was one of the best joys of the season. These we received at church and at home. My Dad and older siblings always decorated the tree on Christmas Eve–so we children literally experienced Clement C. Moore’s “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. No, we did not hear hooves on our roof, nor Santa’s jolly “Ho, Ho, Ho”–but the Christmas story was read to us each year before bed. We did not all participate in the tree going up, but we always took it down as a family on New Years Day–without fail.
I can remember listening to Santa Claus’ journey (to get to our town) on the radio in our living room. I truly believed that he was working hard to reach us until my older sister told me that Santa wasn’t real. I was three years old and totally devastated. Christmas never felt the same again until I realized that the Spirit of Christmas was the true giver. Christmas became even more wonderful, but I also grasped that my parents did a lot of hard work. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the manufacturers also did a large portion of the hard work.
I believe that my mother associated Christmas with hard times. She grew up without her father–who died when she was very young. This is an opportunity to thank her for putting forth so much effort to make our Christmas season memorable when I know that her own Christmas memories may have been much sparser.
My Dad loved the very essence and spark of Christmas. He was a Baptist Pastor who would take us to church on Christmas Eve to hear, see, and feel the Nativity Scene; then return home to play with his children. It was his job to help set up the tree, and put the bicycles and other mechanical gifts together. Long after we (four girls and two boys) had cleaned our rooms and closed our excited eyes, Dad, along with my Mama, would take the time to ensure that all was ready for us on Christmas morning. It would not be until I was 16 years old that I would actively participate in this Christmas Eve ritual.
Mama loved to cook. Christmas gave her a golden opportunity to do what she did best. Her fruitcakes were legendary. I can remember helping her in the kitchen with the ulterior motive of tasting the batter and snitching the tiny bits of fruit and nuts. Delicious gingerbread smells and hot sweet rolls were what greeted us at the breakfast table on Christmas morning. I have always associated my Christmas breakfast with that of the girls of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” except that I actually got to eat my breakfast.
After breakfast it was time to open presents. First came the fruit and nuts. I still eat an orange with candy inside it every Christmas. The juice runs down my chin. I love it! Then came gifts varying from dolls to books; from skates to bikes. I always received art supplies as I was the artistic child. I also received a nightgown, slippers, and books every Christmas. The books were definitely my favorites. They were “Trixie Belden”, “Little Women”, “Rose In Bloom”, “Bobbsey Twins”, “What A jolly Street” and more. I spent the most wonderful moments of my childhood with my best friends–my books.
Cleanup came next, and as the boys, including Dad, and the two youngest girls played with their toys–we older girls helped Mama to finish preparing the mid-day Christmas meal. I say this with no regrets. It was wonderful to be in the warm, fragrant kitchen with Mama and my oldest sister. The kitchen was always the warmest room in the house at Christmas in temperature and temperament. I can still smell the roasting turkey and candied yams that made my mouth water.
We always ate in our dining room, which had a cozy fireplace with a mantel above it. This is where my parents hung the mistletoe. They always embarrassed us. All of us would exclaim, “Yuck!”. My Grandmother and my Aunt would also join us at the Christmas meal. Dad would say the Christmas Blessing and we could eat. It was hard waiting for the adults to serve us all. I always got a drumstick–still my favorite piece, and stuffing so rich with flavor that I could have skipped the turkey altogether. There was homemade rolls; cranberry sauce; candied yams; collard greens, and a large slice of fruitcake for desert. So many leftovers. Storing them was another job to do while dishes were being washed, dried, and put away. We never ate an evening meal–we were too stuffed. Evening was a time to enjoy our gifts and each other. We would sing ‘O Holy Night’ with harmonies, and ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ while we tapped out the drumbeats.
Finally, heads nodding, we would climb the stairs and store our treasures in our bedrooms. Christmas Day was drawing to an end, and what a wonderful day it had been. What I did not have the wisdom to know at my young age was that Christmas is every day. The gift of the Savior of Mankind is something to ponder and treasure all year long.
Was your Christmas like mine? Possibly not. I believe that everyone has a unique experience because we all perceive differently. We grow up in different types of homes without the same family traditions. What is important is the knowledge of the Christ-child’s sacrifice for us, and remembering that we are Blessed with gifts each day, such as family– not just at Christmas.
Does my immediate family celebrate Christmas the same as I did as a girl? There are many similarities, but there are also new traditions that marriage has brought to me and my family. Now, instead of reading ‘The Night Before Christmas”, we read Luke Chapter 2–the story of Christ’s birth. We are all adults here now, and this Christmas is to be treasured. Next Christmas may be different, but I can always treasure the memories of watching my children’s faces at Christmastime, and my own delight in reading them Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” when they were very young.
Have a Wonderful Holiday Season– Charlene
picture credit: hubpages.com
Narrative credit: charlene @charlene’s attic