Saturday, December 27, 2008

Childhood Christmas Memories

Seeing the sweet pictures posted of my friends' children this Christmas has brought a lump to my throat and some tears to my eyes.   Their faces and sparkly eyes so describe what I remember feeling, and to recognize it and almost feel it again is wonderful!   
My mom made a big Santa's Boot out of a large oatmeal container.  It was covered with flour/salt dough and baked on low.  She had painted it red, and shaped it like a big boot with laces and white fur around the lid, which came off.  It was brought out every Christmas and loaded with her yummy thumbprint cookies and white butterballs.  She also had gone out and found a bare bush which was painted white or metallic.  Little cellophane packages filled with fudge, penuche and divinity were tied on the branches with ribbons.  Whenever someone came over, they were invited by us children to pick one and untie it.  We opened our few presents on Christmas Eve.  
The tradition was that we always knew and looked forward to a new flannel nightgown.  If money wasn't so tight, my older sisters would get a robe and maybe slippers also.  There is simply nothing as wonderful in my memory as when we could finally get undressed and put on the crisp new nightie.  It was only stiff that one night, of course, which was odd to like it, but it symbolized 'new'.   New was a novelty.    All of us girls had long hair down our backs and every Saturday night we would sit on the floor in front of mom after our bath and she would comb the snarls out and section it off and roll it up in pink foam curlers.  We would then get our nicest pair of clean underwear and put it over our heads so none of the curlers would 
get rubbed loose during the night and horror of horrors we would have one straight section the next day.  We didn't really like the curling hair thing much, but sometimes endured it for looking pretty on Christmas day even when it wasn't on sunday.     
One time our family and another family drove up to a cabin in the snow-maybe Mt Shasta.  We lived in San Jose at the time.  It was dark when we got there and a snow storm made it impossible to drive into the cabin.  The dads packed themselves and everyone else up with the food, blankets and presents and we trudged what seemed like miles to me in the scary darkness.  I was probably 4 years old or so and the snow seemed really deep and was so hard to walk in.  My dad would have usually carried me, but he was loaded down like a mule.  I stumbled off the road a bit, because the next thing I knew, I was down in  a hole and could hear the adults calling for me after they realized I had disappeared.  It was a small creek, but must've been frozen.  They found me and we finally made it to the cabin.  The men got the fire going, forgot to open the damper or a nest was in it or something, because it was smokey and we had to have the doors open.  I was soooo cold and couldn't get warm.  Mom took me on her lap and put my frozen little hands one under each of her warm armpits.  It was heavenly to me, but it must have been terrible for her.  That night, the flannel nighties were especially warm and so cozy.  
When Tess and Brita were little, we lived in snowy Colorado.  We would bundle them up and put them on the sled and Craig would pull them up to Hardee's and get us all a hot frosted raisin biscuit from money we had scrounged from the car seat, the couch cushions or their piggy banks.  Especially made the effort around Christmas time.   Everyone would get water except me.  Craig made sure I could get a small coffee with cream.  
I carried on the flannel nightie tradition, matching ones, until the girls  rebelled and explained that they got tangled up at night, and mom, "NONE of our friends wear nightgowns".  Then, Craig rebelled when we got married.  Duh!   :) So you won't find any flannel nighties under our tree at Christmas, but thanks mom, for the memories.   

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