K. D. McCrite

K.D. McCrite grew up on an Ozark Mountain farm along an old dirt road, just like April Grace Reilly in In Front of God and Everybody. She loves writing stories that make people laugh and think. For a while, she worked as a librarian, but these days she sits at her desk and makes up stories. Her second book to this series will release in December 2011. Visit her at http://kdmccrite.com/

K. D. McCrite

Christmas, Old and New

I like new ideas and new ways of doing things. But at holiday time, especially Christmas, those customs we practiced during our childhood become increasingly precious. Here are some rituals and routines from my young days. Maybe some of them are similar to your own cherished traditions, or maybe you remember something different.

The silver Christmas tree. Although we were country people surrounded by woods, for several years my mother and I put together and decorated an aluminum tree that once belonged to her sister. Rather small, the tree surely was shiny. It caught and reflected sunlight from the front room windows in daytime; it mirrored lamplight at night. Some of my friends made fun of that tree, but I loved to look at it. I especially enjoyed the time my busy mother took from her day to help me decorate those silver branches.

Mama’s Christmas records. We’d put a stack of Christmas records on the stereo before we started our decorating. (This was long before CDs, or even cassette tapes, had been thought of.) Billy Vaughn, Andy Williams, Robert Goulet, the Christmas Strings, and Mama’s favorite, Ken Griffin on the organ. Any time but Christmas I would have curled up my nose at this “old codger” music. But at Christmas I loved it, and today when I hear those recordings, I’m taken back to lovely, cozy winter days at home.

Candy and any other sweet you can think of. Like the mother and grandmother in my Confessions of April Grace series of books, my mom was a terrific cook who did not know how to “go small” in her kitchen skills. At Christmas, every treat we had was homemade: old-fashioned chocolate fudge, marshmallow crème fudge, Norway fudge, divinity (with and without nuts), date log, coconut butterballs, fig bars, orange slice cake, angel food cake, chocolate cake, pies of every sort. Mama and Daddy’s bedroom wasn’t heated, and she kept all those sweets on a chest in that room so everything stayed fresh. Of course, we had lots of friends and relatives dropping in to visit. They merrily loaded their plates with the lovely treats Mama made, plus whatever she’d cooked or baked up fresh, just for them.

Baby dolls. I have always loved dolls, baby dolls, especially. Every year I poured over the doll pages in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. Wishbook. I wanted every cute little doll there, but knew I’d get only one. Oh, the difficulty of choosing between the one with the pink blanket with eyes that opened and shut, and the one in the yellow pajamas who cried real tears. To this day, I love the smell of new-toy vinyl, and I have a couple of baby dolls bought not so long ago!

Going to Aunt Enie’s. Christmas was not Christmas unless we piled into the car on Christmas morning to spend the day with all our relatives at my Aunt Ileina’s house (we called her Enie). Grandma lived with her, and she’d wear in her best apron and newest cardigan sweater while sitting in her rocker, smiling and loving the chaos that surrounded her. We played “passing gifts.” Each adult brought one wrapped gift. As Aunt Eenie read the Christmas story, the gift was passed to the next person whenever the phrase it came to pass was read. What a lovely memory that is, so much laughter and sharing!

Church. What Christmas was complete without special church services and events? The adults always performed a play. That was the Sunday night before Christmas. Services in the morning usually consisted of the little kids’ program. They’d sing carols off-key and stumble through reciting the second chapter of Luke. At the end, everyone in the entire church received a small brown bag containing an apple, an orange, and a variety of candy.

There seems no end to traditions this time of year. Do you have a special one you enjoy more than the rest? Maybe your family started something uniquely your own. However you celebrate, I hope you have the best Christmas ever this year. “God bless us, everyone!”


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