Friday, November 20, 2009


Christmas Dreams

Maybe it is the wine.....maybe it is the fact that I have some quiet time to myself at the beginning of a week off from work.....but I've been thinking A LOT about holidays and why this time of year is so special to me.

I remember the artificial tree we had.  All the years I lived at home it was the same one.  Maybe 6 feet tall, before lights were wired into the branches, super short needles at the top of the tree from where there was damage from a fire my first Christmas.  A fire started by the lights on the tree which was in the basement of our house and which wiped out my sister's extensive Barbie Doll collection.  And also scorched the wall by my crib in the room directly above.  Fortunately, my parents had gone out for the evening so my siblings & I were with an aunt at the time of the fire.

I remember the decorations for the tree.  The funky 50's shapes and colors of our glass ornaments.  The beautiful glass balls.  The ornaments we kids had made through the years at school.  Red and green garlands, and tinsel crinkled and shortened from being used year after year.  Whatever happened to tinsel?  I haven't put it on any of my own trees - is it even still available to buy?  There was this candle too. Round bottom, five sides, stained glass panels and silver glitter.  It had this scent.....I don't know what it was called originally, but to me it smelled of Christmas.

My nephews used to fall asleep with the thick Christmas flyer that Toys-R-Us sent out.  For us it was the arrival of the JC Penny catalog.  The number of times we would look through it, circling the items we wanted -I'm surprised we didn't break the spine!

I remember the special food we had.  My dad was in charge of candy making.  He was a typical dad of the time: made great pancakes and was always in charge of the grill.  But at Christmas time, he would take over the kitchen.  He would make carmel corn, chocolate rainsin clusters, chocolate peanut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels.  Come to think of it, if it stood still long enough he covered it in chocolate.  He also made peanut brittle.  I didn't necessarily cared for peanut brittle, but I knew that it was tricky stuff.  You have to get the sugar mixture to just the right temperature.  Dad didn't want me to get hurt (or be under foot when he needed to move quickly) so I would sit and watch from under the table.  When I was older I was able to appreciate the beauty of the sugar as it bubbled up in its carmel-colored glory in the pan after he added baking soda(?) to the mixture.  But while I was younger, I would watch from my safe perch while he moved to and fro, stirring this pan, mixing up the popcorn as it baked in the oven, checked to see if things were solid enough to move from the wax paper lined trays.

I remember the family friend who would dress up as Santa and come visit me at home.  When I was 8 & my younger sister was 4 I discovered he wasn't really Santa.  My sister took one look at him and said "Hi Bob!".  I was crushed.  The tape from the beard stuck to his face when he came back from "checking on his dog" did not support his argument that it wasn't him.

We had a fireplace at the home of my early years.  It felt right and natural, after all Santa needed it to get into my house each year, right?  It was great being able to hang my stocking from the mantle each year.  We moved when I was 11 to a home that did not have a fireplace.  Santa still visited us (for the sake of my younger sister), but it didn't feel right.

Perhaps this memories are so vivid in my head because I am very aware of the fact that Turtle is now at a point where she is going to remember these same holidays.  She already sees pictures of Santas or Christmas trees and says "Oh that's Christmas!"  This will be her 3rd Christmas with us, and I think it will finally be the one where it too will become a special time for her.  So I'm thinking about what traditions I want to start for her.

We don't have a fireplace, so there will be a special key that we hang from the door on Christmas Eve.  Last year she received from Grandma a special plate to put cookies on for Santa's reindeer.  I have purchased a shadow box for these two items so they can be part of our Christmas decorations and easily accessible for the Big Night.  Tonight as we were driving to Grandma's house we passed a park that had some trees lit -she was enchanted!  She also thought the street lights were part of the display as well, but I'll cut her some slack since she is a toddler.  I think the evening drive to look at lights will become part of the ritual.  Stockings will either hand from the entertainment center in the living room or magically appear at the foot of her bed.  This year may be different due to some medical reasons, but Grandma usually comes over on Christmas Eve to spend the night with us.  I make pastitsio for dinner, then we kick back and watch Christmas movies and tv shows while we wait for DH to come home from work (retail).  In the morning we open gifts from DH's family sent to us from Denver and now also, from Santa.  DH makes eggs benedict for breakfast, and a leg of lamb for lunch.  (Johnny Walker Red also comes to visit us on Christmas Eve and usually stays thru lunch/dinner the next day.)   Turtle is too young for an advent calender, but I'd like to sew one this next year for her.  I also like the idea of the special activity every night (Thanks DianeDenmark!) so I'll be trying that next year.  I also like the idea of the elf that comes to stay in the month leading up to Christmas.  He keeps tabs on everyone in the house and makes daily reports to Santa.

I think this may be the longest post ever!  Thanks for joining me down this trip down Memory Lane :)

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