Tis The Season

The smell of fresh cut Fir.  Bing Crosby’s crooning on the turntable – probably his White Christmas LP special.  At church, the story of baby Jesus retold. This is the nostalgia of Christmas past.   

I spent hours at the kitchen table turning the pages of the Sears catalogue.  Toys were circled with color crayon. The little frilly dresses were check marked and the page numbers memorized. It was an optimistic game, mom appreciated the quiet, and I never stopped dreaming… even though I knew that my small presents would never resemble anything close to these opulent choices.

The week of the “big day” I would tag along behind my dad as he searched our twenty-seven acres for a suitable evergreen to grace our modest home.  Daddy was reluctant.  It was a waste of potential firewood or fencing.  To him Christmas was a nonsense holiday.  Even in the 1950’s there was commercialism and unreasonable expectations…not that any of my siblings hoped for much. 

The eldest kids propped up the tree and pulled the decorations down from somewhere.  Maybe the attic?  Mama helped some too.  Other than that, she didn’t decorate our house for the season.  That took money, time,  and energy.  With eight children, of which I was the youngest, all those things were scarce in Mama’s life. 

Once the tree was trimmed and the delicate and ancient golden star was gently placed at the top, the lights were plugged in and off went the house lights. My brothers and sisters gathered on the Eve in the soft glow of the multi-colored bulbs. If we didn’t sing with the the carols on the record player or the radio, then we joined in around the piano. Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and The First Noel.  Our family harmonized beautifully.   Singing was free entertainment and we participated with abandoned joy (to the world). Mama would often join in while Daddy secretly listened with great pride. I could see it in his face.  The look was always on his face when he came to watch us sing in what seemed like a  “grand”  school Christmas program. Especially if we were chosen for solos. My two eldest brothers who are in their mid seventies still sing like they did when they were kids.  Me, not so much.

In spite of his cynicism, daddy enjoyed the special meal that mama prepared Christmas day. Because it was less expensive, usually turkey. Sometimes roast beef. Fruit and vegetables from our fruit room or the “locker.”  (The “locker” was our space in a walk in rental freezer storage in the small town nearby.)  There was always pie.  Apple and pumpkin and sour-cream raisin.  The aroma was perfect.  If mama had time she might make daddy his favorite.  Lemon meringue.  As best she could, Mama made sure the day was special.  Daddy bent a bit here and there; we learned to live with that. 

As I grew,  I eventually recognized that our holiday “things” were humble.  Yet, it still seemed splendid to me.   I was filled with that Christmas delight and my day was abound with hope and love.
Even now, that feeling suddenly squeezes my heart – and catches me off guard. 

So....Merry Christmas everyone!

(First Monday - the evolution of Fun Monday -- can be found today at  Sayre Smiles.)


Sayre said…
I feel like I was right there with you! Having five brothers, there were a few very lean Christmases, including one that had my parents cutting out pictures of what they WISH they could have given us for Christmas. Funny thing is, I can't remember a BAD Christmas while I was growing up though I knew they were pretty humble too. I just didn't know that until I was much older...

Thanks for sharing!
Jan n Jer said…
What a wonderful story...it's the little things that make us happy and that is what we remember when we grow up! Being together as a family and singing Christmas carols is a wonderful memory Pamela!
Karmyn R said…
And that, mom, is what Christmas is all about - having special moments with family!

Love you.
Your memories are wonderful. Obviously you had Christmas in your heart..simply..family together and a good meal..I think you were rich..you had a Piano!:)
Jill said…
makes me wonder how my mom's christmas was..
Sandy said…
Some of us were discussing Thanksgiving traditions last month. My brother asked my mom what her favorite traditions were from when she was a kid. She said that her mom didn't make a whole lot out of Thanksgiving but that she remembered that was the day that they stuffed their mattresses with fresh straw.

Amazing. Now I wonder where she got all the stuff we thought she got from her mom!
Intense Guy said…
Again and again, you hear the message... its not the "goodies" or the "new possessions" or "toys" - it's the family being together sharing some quiet time together - time that doesn't include the drama of weddings or the pain of funerals - which seems to be the leading cause of family get togethers...


Merry Christmas to you too, I hope you have an awesome Lemon Meringue pie while you listen to the "grands" shout in joy and giggle with the "happies".
bichonpawz said…
Merry Christmas to you Pamela! Wonderful Christmas memories. It just isn't quite the same for kids today, is it?
Ms. Kathleen said…
This all sounds so lovely! I agree the smells of Christmas help make the season magical.
grammy said…
Love this...
Be sure to save it in hard copy for your kids and Grands. I sure wish my Mom had written something for us to read. I want to try to do that too. My Christmas's were very similar to yours. Not a lot of 'stuff'... but what I wanted most as a kid (also the youngest) was for us all to be together. My Mom was not very into Christmas...now I understand that memories of my Dad's death on the 17th of December (when I was just 3) forever changed the season for her.
Peter said…
Ya got me again Pamela, another dash to the Kleenex box... thanks Buddy, Merry Christmas my friend.
Susie Q said…
Beautifully written and what sweet memories...when I look back at my childhood, I sure was blessed. We weren't rich but Christmas was magical...and filled with traditions and joy. I have tried so hard to re create most of that for my kids and hope I have given them at least a couple sweet memories!
Thank you for sharing this with us!
mark said…
What great memories. Happy holidays to you too!

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