Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas with the Growing Family


December in Corpus Christi
     Our first child was three months old for her first Christmas and her first gift was a stuffed kitty that cost an outrageous $5. It was cute as could be but nothing like the cuddly stuffed animals of today. I simply had to have it for her. She couldn’t have cared less; that was the day that she first discovered that she had feet and she was entranced by their appearance.
      From that point we went through the usual progression of dolls and tricycles; blocks and tinker toys. No colorful plastics in those days. I was particularly partial to toys that would keep a child occupied for hours.
First horse
      One Christmas is especially clear in my memory. Our small son wanted a puppy so that was arranged. There was a problem, however, as the little doggie was so lonely that the quiet of Christmas Eve was broken by loud puppy whines.
Summer fun
     In order to keep the Santa image intact, our eldest daughter went in to the living room where the Christmas tree was awaiting Santa’s arrival and spent the night on the sofa, one hand petting and soothing the lonesome little pup.
     It was a joyous morning for her little brother when he greeted his first dog and promptly named him “Unting Buppyˆ
      When my daughters were growing up, there were always dolls displayed prominently in the dime stores and even in other shops. One especially great place for dolls and unusual small gifts was Dore’s Doll Shop. I believe the last Christmas doll that I bought was a Jackie Kennedy doll.  Christmas was fun for mothers subbing for Santa.
High heels & toy
gun holster?
       In the fifties and sixties play and reality were widely separated so our Christmas saw its share of toy pistols and BB guns, and our kids and others in the neighborhood played cowboys and Indians with nary a thought of political correctness or in fear of warping their personalities.
       There were also years of buying special gifts of sweaters and jewelry for our teen-age daughters and some really neat articles of clothing for the growing-up son. He could never understand why I enjoyed purchasing his garments  as compared to the handmade clothes of his sisters . 
      The daily hum of that sewing machine caused my husband to insist that the main Christmas gift for several of the girls was to be a sewing machine so they could continue  with the handmade tradition.
     For years we kept the “live tree” tradition finally the chore of visiting tree lots on miserably cold and windy days became tiresome so after thirty Christmases we switched to an artificial tree and I almost joined my father in my declining enthusiasm for the hustle and bustle of the season. The children had grown up. There was no early Christmas morning excitement; if a teen was still home, they much preferred to sleep in to an early morning rush to the tree.  
     Regardless, Christmas will arrive as scheduled so a new, smaller tree has been decorated  with old favorite ornaments. The wreath is on the door and Santa and his elves have found their place in the wall niche. Poinsettias line the hearth in memory of our late son; the greenery there honors his father who joined him a year ago. Cookie making is on my list and, maybe, just maybe, some chocolate fudge.
The last babe
33 yr. of children
in the house.  
      So, although traditions are great, change is constant and our            
The latest addition 
to our family.

Christmas celebrations have moved away from much of the family gifting  and has become more of a time of  Angel tree gifts and family dinners.  The dining table extended to it limit, no longer has seating for everyone. The bar where the grandchildren sat now seats them as adults with their own children, and the card tables are put into use for the overflow. My kitchen often has ten or more occupants, some simply talking while other dodge around, trying to tend to the business of putting the finishing touches on the
Christmas dinner. The noise level increases.  Having  already done my share, I sit and watch! A new tradition is in the making and I am enjoying it!

      More than any other holiday, Christmas is loaded with poignant memories. We are fortunate if we have happy ones and are able to enjoy this celebration of the birth of Christ with happiness and a giving spirit, and with enjoyment of the music and the lighted wonderlands that the season brings.

All these beautiful lighted scenes were taken by my cousin while he was visiting during the Thanksgiving holidays.   

For another Christmas story see Karen Rutherford's blog.

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