Saturday, December 18, 2010

When Santa no longer visit

    It must have been my fourth of fifth Christmas that Weatherford had a large community Christmas Tree on the square by the old band stand. Santa Clause, himself, was to stop by with fruit and candy for all the children so my parents decided it would be a great experience for their little one to get to see ole Santa.
    It was indeed an experience, but not what they expected. Santa did arrive and he distributed the bags of goodies. He also passed out bigger and more special gifts such as dolls and bikes, to a few more fortunate children whose parents had wanted their children's gifts hand delivered by the big man himself.  This unfortunately, left the majority of children wondering why they were less favored and trying to understand their frustrated parents  explanations. My mother was angry. In fact, that usually calm woman, was furious, and I expect that the organizers of the event were made aware of her feelings. 
     After the Santa days Christmas became a time of Christmas Eve church programs which we walked to in the crispy winter air. Those were the type of nights that I still associate with Christmas Eve. 
     Christmas also brought the school holidays; there was still a tree to decorate, and gifts to buy. Mother did some special baking, and there was always chicken and dressing and my father's favorite cake with white icing and coconut...definitely not the candy decorated one of his childhood.
     In those days little girls played with their dolls for several years after Santa no longer delivered their toys, and the choosing of my doll was something my dad reserved for himself. He was probably remembering his sisters' pleasure in receiving a doll. The remainder of my gifts were chosen by Mother. Later, when I was in my teens, she told of the one Christmas she had only one dollar to spend and stretched it to make a pleasurable pile of of jacks, doll dishes, a jumping rope and a few other fun things. I never felt deprived, although I did yearn for a $2.98 Shirley Temple doll that never appeared under the tree.
     After I married and was no longer a part of their immediate household, I was flabbrtgasted to find that my dad was no longer making a big deal out of Christmas. He tried to explain to me that his enthusiasm no longer existed but I found it hard to accept. Mother's dedication to the spirit of Christmas continued even after the time came when I had to do her shopping.
     My husband and I and our growing family visited our parents each Christmas Day. The children were allowed to take their favorite gift to show and we took our gifts to our parents and chaos prevailed. Whether we brought joy with our arrival or relief with our leavtaking, is debatable. We did make fresh memories as the kids sat in their grandparents laps, listening to their PaPa's tales and brushing their Granny's hair... and the scent of a cedar tree and a wood fire lingers .

Christmases of the Past

  My childhood Christmases were happy ones, even in the terrible days of the Depression, It was a special event that  I must attribute to my father’s memories of his own childhood Christmases.
     In his family, the custom was to give one toy to each of the younger children; fruit and nuts and hard candies were the remainder of their Christmas loot. The older girls would get hair ribbons and brooches or sensible items such as a new pair of gloves or a scarf. To receive the one gift was exciting and the fruits and candies were special treats. Nothing more was expected.
       There was also a traditional Christmas cake that my dad remembered, not quiet as fondly as the toys and candy. He described it as rather dry layers similar to those of old-fashioned “tea cakes,” covered with icing and decorated with candies. Each Christmas, the sisters produced this Christmas goodie.
       Strangely, I have no memory of Mother ever mentioning her childhood Christmases. Her father, a Methodist minister, may have subdued his children’s fun-loving nature long enough to made the day a quieter one of a more religious nature. I wish I knew.
        It was these memories of Dad's early years, that set the stage for the Christmases of my childhood and made them so special for me. Naturally, I knew the meaning of the Christmas celebration and viewing the star-lit skies of Christmas Eve were awesome, but that dimmed in the excitement of decorating the fragrant cedar tree with the glittering ornaments and ropes of tinsel.
      In the drab days of those Depression years, these bits of color were more beautiful than anyone in today’s colorful world can imagine. Our tree was always located at a window far from the only heat we had…. that from a wood-burning heater that barely heated one end of the room. My days of the Christmas season were spent gazing at the changing reflections in the glass ornaments until I was thoroughly chilled, then baking by the stove and returning to the tree. Recessed windows of color such as these of today were among our ornaments and a few are now family heirlooms in the possession of my eldest daughter. 
     Depending upon the size of our tree, there were usually a few unused bits of tinsel, which I strung helter-skelter over a small cedar growing in our front yard.
      The final decorating was to hang a few tissue bells from the ceiling and place small wreaths in the windows. The bells were folding ones that when unfolded formed a bell of honeycomb tissue. I just this minute remembered the wreaths! They, like the bells, were a faded red and were probably also of some type of crushed paper. They were small, and had bedraggled bits of greenery and ribbon decoration.
     One year my dad did not have a spot located to cut our tree so he asked if I thought it would be all right to use a small live oak tree. Of course, I agreed with my dad’s plan to use a substitute for our traditional cedar. As you might imagine, as a Christmas tree, the live oak was a dismal failure. Dad’s only remark was, “I’ll not do that again.”  And he didn’t!
     Next came the anticipation of Santa’s visit and the excitement of the morning after! There was always a doll and doll clothes Mrs. Santa had made. Once there was a little ring with a tiny blue stone surrounded by a circle of tine clear ones. Hair barrettes, a pencil box, a coloring book were tucked among the tree’s branches and I searched and searched for more. Almost eighty years later, I still have the ring and the pencil box! Cherished treasures!
      The day came that we all experience: the day that some older kid announces that there is no Santa Clause. Of course, I knew better, but just in case the claim that my parents did the gifting was true, I began a search for any hidden gifts.
      Sadly, I found them stored in the attic.  I quickly replaced the trap door and wished I had never searched and I wished it were not true. That unforgettable day, the magic left, never to return, and growing up began.
      The gifts I had discovered appeared on schedule Christmas morning. They were accompanied with the usual five and ten cent gifts of the day: many small items could be bought for that amount, making even a few dimes provide a lot of joy for a little kid.

      Those previously discovered gifts were a set of handmade doll furniture made from the wood used in the car bodies of early days. Some was oak and some was a softer wood and I can appreciate the difficulty of using these odds and ends of wood to make the four pieces of furniture that made the set of a table and one chair, and a bed and dresser.
     These were not tiny items and were not proportioned realistically but they were wonderful. Each piece had been decorated with pink apple blossoms on the apple green background of the furniture. The little dresser had a framed mirror and drawers with carved knobs that actually opened each one.
      Thirty years later, all but the little dresser were stolen from my own attic where they had been stored.  If I ever, ever, spot them at a garage sale or in a junk store, they’re coming home!

Undreamed of in the '30s and '40's, decoration such as  this is becoming common, today.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Have a little chuckle

It's tough living in a woman's world!
The season is a busy one: there’s the gifts to buy and wrap if you have time.  A handy supply of gift bags is a life-saver.

Suddenly we’ve all turned into cooks. It’s the time to bake all those favorite cookies and breads for gifts.  It’s time to stir up all that candy you didn’t have time to make last year.

Another year has gone by without making that really good fruit cake you been planning to bake. The persons scheduled to receive these are relieved to hear you grumble that it won’t happen again this year.

Now, for the house: Besides turning into the “cook of the year.”
You’ve become a decorator… and not just of the house but of the entire yard. There is enough  “Honey do’s” to keep the man of the house busy for weeks and its only ten days ‘til Christmas!

The tidy house has turned into a jumble of boxes of Christmas decorations; bits of sparkle litter the carpet; pine needles and poinsettia petals are joining the sparkle litter;  a glass ornament breaks.

It’s time for your favorite drink whether its of the hot chocolate or chilled wine variety, kick off  your shoes, turn up the Christmas music (if you can find  where you stored it last year) and join in with a few chuckles over bits of humor that have been shared with me.

From Jeff Foxworthy  he really has us pegged!

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a
wrong number, you may live in Texas

If someone in a Lowe's store offers you assistance and they don't work
there, you may live in Texas

If 'Vacation' means going anywhere south of Dallas for the weekend, you may
live in Texas

If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph --you're going 80 and
everybody's passing you, you may live in Texas

This is easily understood!
Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at   Cross Trails Church in Fairlie ,   Texas  
(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.  

It’s a rushed time…lots to do. Have a happy holiday, don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions and instead think of the positive things you’ve done. I hope I’m here soon with memories of past Christmases but if not…

                                             Merry Christmas