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
• 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
• 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.
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!
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!
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!”