One can't live without collecting a lot of memories . I see my past and compare it to my present. How the world has changed. How the celebration of Christmas has changed. How I have changed.
I used to be an organist - choir director when my children were little. Richard and I taught Sunday School. He was a deacon in our church. I remember a Christmas Eve service. I ended the service by having the choir stand at the back of the church. All the lights were turned out except the Christmas tree and lights at the altar. The choir sang Silent Night Holy Night. It was so beautiful and peaceful.
When I was a child and believed in Santa Claus, there was not a sign of Christmas on Christmas Eve. No presents. No tree. Nothing. My sister and I would go to bed, so excited We could not sleep. Our parents locked the door that separated the bedrooms from the public spaces. There was no way We could spy. When We got up on Christmas day, there was Christmas! It had appeared overnight. Stockings full. Christmas tree decorated! Our tree was always a real tree.
In memory, I can still smell the pine needles. Presents under the tree! My Dad's train running in a circle under the tree...and traditional special ornaments on the tree. My sister and I looked at the ornaments until We found the chicken and the ghost ornaments, but that is another story. There was tinsel on the tree...not the mylar stuff. Ours was made of aluminum foil. If it fell on the train tracks, it would short out the train. The only time the train was set up, was from Christmas day until New Year's day. In memory, I can still hear the sound of the train.
The night before ,We had made cookies. A plate was set out for Santa along with a glass of milk. In the morning, the snack was gone. Proof positive that Santa was real and had come down our chimney. Christmas music played from the radio. I had memorized the poem,"Night Before Christmas". I can recite it today, if you ask me to.
First thing was the stockings. No, We did not have the kind of Christmas stockings you can buy in the store. We hung up stockings We wore all year around. Who had the biggest feet and the biggest stockings? My Dad, of course. So, all of the stockings hung from the mantle (fake fireplace) were my Dad's. We used nails to attach them to the mantle. So my Dad had four socks with holes at the top from the nails.
The stockings were filled with oranges and life savers. It might contain a box of crayons, gum, a paddle ball. It contained walnuts, a whistle. We made a mess all over the livingroom rug of orange peels and bits of walnut shells. No one bothered to make breakfast on Christmas morning. Breakfast is candy ribbon and oranges. I am half sick from eating all that sugar, but it is Christmas so who cares. At the very bottom , in the toe of the sock, is a piece of coal. You have to be good, or Santa will bring only coal, no presents. When My girls were little, I told them they had to be good, or Santa won't bring presents. He will fill their stockings with coal. My youngest one said, "What's coal?"
Richard and I got such a kick out of this. We had to walk a railroad track to find a few pieces of coal that fell off the coal car. No one heats their house with coal any more. We put a piece in each daughter's stocking. B. was so intrigues with it, she saved it as a treasure.
I see my parents faces as they watch us open everything. We rip into our presents. The paper and ribbon litter the floor. When all is opened, my mother gathers the trash and throws it away.
I see my daughter's faces as they open their presents, an experiences that doesn't change, even if the gifts change over time. I gather the wrappings and throw them away.
During world war 2, metal was diverted to the war effort. My gifts were made of cardboard or wood with a silkscreen image on it. I loved my cardboard doll's highchair. I loved my baby doll and her clothes. When I laid her down, she would close her eyes. I had a stuffed bear...a panda bear, jacks, roller skates, a sled, balls, a top...but not all in the same year. I had a play kitchen with china dishes and board games. Richard reports He got an erector set and I remember tinker toys and Lincoln Logs...good building experiences for children. Not one of my toys required batteries or an electrical outlet.
The entire day, in fact the entire Christmas vacation was spent playing with my new toys. We went outside and made a snow fort, or sledded . We built a big hill of snow and poured water over it to freeze it slick. Then We used our sled on our hill. That kept the entire neighborhood busy for the entire vacation.
Dad was busy stoking the coal furnace, gravity feed hot air upstairs. He would take ashes from the furnace and sprinkle them on the sidewalk so passers by would not slip. I wish I had ashes for my icy walktoday...not the chemical stuff.
I remeber one Christmas Eve, my sister and I just could not go to sleep. We were jumping on our beds. My parents came in several times to tell us to go to sleep. (After all, they had all the work ahead of them to set up Christmas for us after We fell asleep.) Finally a monster man stuck his head in our door and looked at us. We were shocked into silence. Our eyes went big as saucers. We were cowed into settling down. Years later, my Dad admits that it was He in the mask. The mask was a Santa Claus mask, but it couldn't have been a very good one, because it scared us .