Post # 320 Waxing Nostalgic

December 12, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I usually write this post closer to the holiday, but what the heck.  I’m feeling it now.  The Christmas holiday is focal point of every kid’s year.  Every other holiday is just a place marker getting you closer and closer to that One.  The older I get, the more I have to look back on, the more I remember with fondness and humor those Christmases as a kid.  Heck, even the ones as an adult were always a lot of fun.

One Christmas, my mom thought it would be “fun” not to put name tags on any presents.  She figured it would be “exciting” to open a gift not knowing if it was yours or somebody else’s.  Mostly, it was weird.  You’d be staring at a silk blouse knowing it wasn’t yours, and wondering who in heck would want undies with the days of the week on them?  And it was severely disappointing when the present you opened and wanted dearly actually belonged to someone else.  Made it hard not to be jealous.  She only did that once.

One year, I went on a baking blitzkrieg and there were cookies, pies, cakes, and other assorted delicacies all over the house.  At one point, we found a plate on the floor, crumbs in the carpet, and the dogs burping and licking their chops.  I don’t even remember what was on that plate.  My sister sampled all the frosted sugar cookies before pronouncing the red ones the best tasting.  Even though I tried to explain that it was all the same batch of cookies, with the same frosting with different food coloring, the red ones were the best.  Years later, this sentiment was echoed by my sister-in-law when I made a batch of peppermint candy and colored them with different food colorings.  The blue ones were her favorite, and no amount of explanation would convince her otherwise.  We really do eat with our eyes first.

One year, I wanted to go completely traditional with the tree decorations so I popped corn and strung it along thread with cranberries.  Then I draped yards of strung popcorn around the tree.  It took a lot of work, but it was worth it.  A few days later, my nephew, who was about nine months old, balanced himself on the couch, grabbed one end of a string of popcorn, and ate his way through about three feet before we noticed.  After several pictures were taken, his mom worried about the number of raw cranberries he’d eaten, until we noticed a few on the floor and the dogs sniffing around.  Didn’t worry too much after that.

I always loved the look of candy canes on the tree.  They were pretty, and they were edible.  And they were CANDY!!  Sometimes there would be individually wrapped canes, and other times they would be strung together and wrapped around the tree.  They were the best, and it’s probably that memory that makes peppermint one of my favorite flavors.  Then some innovative candy maker came up with the idea of candy canes in different flavors!  Woo hoo!  Now candy canes come in all varieties of colors with matching flavors.  Brown ones are chocolate; yellow ones are lemon or banana; orange ones are orange; red ones can be apple, or cherry, or cinnamon.  One year, I decorated my tree in different color candy canes and lights.  It was great!


But mostly, it was about having family around.  As kids, in the sixties, we were each given three dollars and we had to buy four gifts with our three dollars.  Mom and dad would drop us off at the big store (probably a Woolworth’s, but I don’t remember) in the care of the oldest and we’d spend the next couple of hours agonizing over how to best spend the money we had.  Three bucks back then went an awfully long way, but we had to make some hard decisions.  In the end, we always had gifts for everyone.  The one gift that always stands out for me is buying my mom a box of her favorite candy, chocolate covered cherries.  Dad always got a bottle of Old Spice aftershave.

Christmas was always cold outside, but warm inside.  Things were bright and colorful, exciting with secrets, and always humming Christmas tunes.  There was always the wait to Charlie Brown, Mr. Magoo, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch.  I watched the 50th anniversary of Rudolph the other night and nearly cried when I remembered watching the original showing.

As we got older, the challenge to find the most mysterious gift was paramount.  One year, my gift for my brother was tall and narrow, bumpy, and sloshy.  He spent hours wondering what it was.  On Christmas morning, he reached for it immediately, his curiosity reaching a feverish pitch.  “Beer?” he asked.  “You bought me beer?”  I’d bought a case of his favorite beer in the cans, stacked them, taped them solid, and wrapped them up.  He told me years later, it was on of the best gifts he’d ever got.

One year, when all was said and done, there were four copies of Trivial Pursuit.  My sister had received two of them.

One year, when my dad was running his convenience store/gas station, he’d bought several tubes of wrapping paper and it lasted years.  On a quirk, I kept wrapping my mom’s presents in the same green paper with candy canes year after year.  Finally, one year, I told her it was all gone.  The next year, I found some that was similar and wrapped her present in that.  She was not amused.  She liked the gift, though.  It was a candy dish made out of a peppermint stick.  A candy dish made out of candy!  She had that for a long time.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was from my early 20s.  I made three loaves of bread.  One was for the stuffing I was going to make on Christmas morning, and the other two were for general consumption.  I stayed up later than normal to make them, hoping to see my sister and her crowd come in late Christmas Eve.  No luck, and I went to bed only to find on Christmas morning there was only 2/3rds of a loaf left.  Well, it was enough, so I started the stuffing and the rest of the planned feast.  I eventually found out they had come in starving and fell on the bread like sharks in a feeding frenzy.  “It wasn’t pretty,” she said.  They hadn’t even used knives to slice the bread, just tore great hunks out of the loaves.

I’ll probably share more memories as we get closer to The Day, but feel free to share any of your own.



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