Wednesday, December 12, 2007

blog #032 >> A Trip Down Memory Lane is never Lame

Can you guess which one I am?
I only have fond memories of Christmas which is probably why I like it so much now.
A two day celebration with nearly two months anticipation which stretched throughout the year. I even remember playing Christmas in July with a fur bow cut from the back yard for a Christmas tree, decorations of paper snowflakes, pipe cleaner candy canes, Christmas gram cracker cookies with hot chocolate, a real sock for a stocking, and of course then Santa would come when all the lights are out and leave "presents" which were usually old toys rewrapped in newspaper. And even all that was no comparison to the real Christmas which happened on December 25th.
Oh, yes we kept an advent calendar religiously.

What exactly made Christmas so wonderful? EVERYTHING!
After Thanksgiving we'd start decorating and making Christmas cookies. And every year, after I was older, I'd make a gingerbread house. We'd visit friends and neighbors and friends and neighbors would come visit us. We always had cookies and hot chocolate ready when they did. We'd drive though neighborhoods just to look at the Christmas lights. And it seems every year growing up I was Mary in the church Christmas pageant. So I'd practice for that and go to choir rehearsals for the children's choir. And we'd write Christmas cards and send them out. And get a mail box full in return. Christmas mail is fun mail. REAL LETTERS! There's something to be said for a paper hand written note rather than a quick phone call or an email. It says, "Hey, I was thinking of you when I made this card and signed it and addressed it, licked the envelope, stuck the stamp on it, which I paid 32¢ for, and then I was thinking of you when I dropped it in the mail box. And I was thinking of you when it came back because I couldn't remember the current postage rate... and I was thinking of you when I stuck two stamps on it and dropped it in the mail box again. And I know you were thinking of me when you opened your mail box and saw a pretty finely addressed red envelope instead of just bills and junk. And I know you were thinking of me when you taped it to your closet door, or stuck it in your Christmas card basket, or made it into a Christmas card basket." Yes, I wish people would send things in the mail more often. It gives me a reason to remember to get the mail.
Right, tangent sorry... Why Christmas is wonderful, besides the aforementioned.
Well, on Christmas Eve, we'd go to the Christmas Eve service. Then we'd have all the family over or go to Grandma's and open presents from the assorted relatives. And we'd eat snacky types of food: Grandma Ide's German lebkucken, Grandma Rohrer's little pecan pies, crab spread, eggnog, hot chocolate, cream cheese and pumpernickel bread, cheeses mmmmm... cheese, and lots and lots of other foods too. I remember some years we'd sing carols to my mom's piano playing, and other years we'd light the candles on the tree. Yes, candles on the tree. The candle holders were my grandpa's when he was young. And yes, there was a few close calls, I remember once we melted a glittered communion cup bell ornament. But other than that it was relatively safe. And always a sight to see. And then after everyone went home my grandpa would dress up like Santa and come visit. I'm afraid I fell for that bit for a great many years. I was a gullible little thing. But one year I caught my parents filling the stockings when I got up to get a drink of water. Then I knew the truth. But it's fun to believe in Santa anyhow so I figured I play along. So, after Santa promised to come back after we were in bed... well I was in a hurry to get to bed! So we'd put out a letter and a plate of cookies for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer (with an extra big one for Rudolf.) And rush off to bed...
Next morning... IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!
I'd rush out and see what was under the tree and in the stockings. Santa's cookies were reduced to a few crumbs (man, he's a messy eater!) and the carrots were gone! And in the stockings Santa had left apples, oranges, candy canes, chocolates, and a few small toys. Then we'd open the presents from each other and from Santa. After that we'd eat breakfast, hopefully fritters (homemade doughnuts that you dip in a powdered sugar glaze.) And go off to church. After church we'd either go to Christmas dinner at Grandma's house or our house. There we'd all sit down to a nice dinner, the Thanksgiving of Christmas. And after words show off our new toys and play games. And then finally head for home.
And well, that pretty much sums up Christmas growing up.

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