Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday Memories: More Christmas Memories

Hey, y'all! Monday which brings us one of my favorite memes and it's all about sharing memories! Y'all know how much I appreciate memories so you can imagine how excited I was to hear of a meme all about writing our memories! 

Want to join in? Just click the button and link up to Memory Monday at Retired, Not Tired!

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

This week's prompt is: More Christmas Memories

When I was a little girl, the preparation for the arrival of Christmas was the most wonderful part of the entire event. There were trees to decorate and parades to see. There were goodies to be baked and eaten. There were gifts to buy and adorn with brightly colored, foil paper and puffy bows and curly ribbons tagged with the names of recipients in cursive (we searched for our own and remembered each and every one from the moment they were carefully placed under the fragrant Douglas Fir until Christmas Day-though remember our multiplication tables we could not). There were relatives to visit and Christmas cards to address and post. There were carols to be sung and pageants to attend. There were parties to attend and stories to be read. There were advent candles to light and Christmas lights to behold. There were Christmas movies to watch and the Charlie Brown Christmas special, of course.

Love those holiday traditions of childhood as we may, they tend to change as we grow up and, when marriage and/or children become part of our lives, those traditions can really be transformed. In our family, the biggest change was simply location. Though their father's side of the family lived in the same town as we did, my family was further away. I've always felt cheated that we ended up staying in town for Christmas more than traveling. I know it was easier with all the Santa surprises, but it was never the same for me. I can honestly say that the only reason I tolerated it was that my family would, more often than not, come over the holidays. 

Our favorite part of the holiday season remained preparing for Christmas. The advent calendar, decorating, baking, getting the tree. Everything! We always waited until the second week of December to get our tree... until 1991. Prior to that year, we would pack the lovelies up and head to the family farm land where they were attempting to grow Christmas trees and either cut one down or dig it up live and replant it. But 1991 changed all of that. The FIRST tree we brought home that year was just perfect.  Except that it died within five days. We undecorated it and, this time, we bought one (hurricane Hugo pretty much wiped out the tree farm and the pickins were slim). It died.  WTH?! We had to buy another one. We had brought THREE trees into the house, decorated twice, undecorated once and now WE HAD TO DO IT ALL AGAIN. Way uncool. The third tree didn't last too long but we did get through Christmas. The next year, we went with an artificial tree and have used one ever since because I refuse to risk the 1991 multiple tree decorating disaster ever again!  While the lovelies were growing up, the decorating of the Christmas tree was followed by watching the town Christmas parade--although, after the first few years, there always seemed to be at least one daughter IN the parade which meant that one of us had to walk along and, by one of us, I mean- me. 

Getting a tree circa 1991
There was, of course, the annual letter writing campaign to Santa at the North Pole (we still have every single letter--to AND from) and the making of gifts.  The girls made gifts for relatives for many years including ornaments--wooden, ceramic, crab shells, corks, craft sticks, etc.  But, in 1994, we made a Christmas anthology of sorts.  Each daughter made up a story about Christmas, retold the birth of Jesus and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and answered 10 questions about Christmas.  These were treasured so much more than 'store bought' gifts. This tradition has continued. This year, Birdie gave Deanie a handmade quilt. Birdie useda few of Deanie's college t-shirts---

Once school was out for Christmas break (actually called Winter break) the BIG fun began.  The girls and I spent hours making Christmas cookies--rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes and getting icing and sprinkles all over the house decorating them with icing and sprinkles.  Next, we made the annual gingerbread house.  Which, as it turns out, is NOT THAT EASY.  Oh, decorating it with the candy is a cinch.  It's putting the walls up and, the granddaddy of the difficulty, the roof on top.  Yep.  Not that easy at all. The next step in the cooking/baking department was the Christmas goodies for the Christmas Eve gatherings--the ham; cheese and olive balls; sausage balls; spinach balls; fudge- butterscotch and chocolate; meatballs and little smokies; Chex Mix; cheese balls; cream cheese and pepper jelly; etc.  And, in the middle of the table, the lovelies always insisted on a birthday cake for Jesus.

Breezy with a tray of Christmas cookies and the ginger bread house of 1991.

We tried the ones with the cardboard instead of ginger bread but they were not any easier. 
There was (and still is) the writing of the annual Christmas 'newsy' letter to be included, with the Christmas photo of the lovelies, inside the Christmas cards. One year, I couldn't get the picture in time to be included so I mailed the letters inside the cards but NOT a picture. We have our family reunion (this is the huge side, my mother's side) every August and I had to hear about them not getting a Christmas picture from December until the reunion in August. That Christmas, I sent them TWO pictures, one from the year before AND the one for that year. If you send something like this to your relatives, please don't ever NOT send one. You'll pay dearly for it!

The Christmas photo, 1991
Christmas Eve, especially when we hosted the gathering, was very similar to the ones when I was growing up--the family gathered, the food was nearly identical, and the excitement was abundant.  The lovelies wore coordinating outfits handmade each year by Mimi (my mother) up until they developed their own, individual styles. Even then, they coordinated colors most of the time. We generally started out with the man's family for the opening of gifts followed by the Christmas Eve service at church (which changed to the midnight service as the girls got older). The night continued with the gathering of my side of the family where the girls were allowed to open another present--the Christmas pajamas that Mimi (my mother) gave them every year--she still does this! All of the evening's festivities were topped off with a good reading of Clement C. Moore's 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and the perfect placement of the milk and cookies. Finally, it was time to await the arrival of Santa and, until they started getting their own homes, they all slept in the same room. 

The 'Santa' sleeping arrangements. 
Christmas morning was a hullabaloo of brightly colored wrapping paper all over the place everyone talking all at the same time and the shrills of delight that only children have the ability to project at Christmas, or any other time for that matter! The sounds of laughter and toys filled the morning and stopped only for a moment while we ate Christmas dinner--traditionally, like Thanksgiving, until 1993 when we traded in the turkey for prime rib. Later, I began preparing a Christmas brunch instead for any and everyone who wants to join us.  Changes in our family do not usually go over well but everyone seems to enjoy Christmas brunch.

The hullabaloo of color still occurs no matter how old they get. 
When the lovelies were growing up, we did all these things because I wanted them to experience the pure joy of the preparation and anticipation of the holiday so we decorated the trees and attended and participated in the parades. We baked goodies and ate them. We shopped for the gifts and adorned them with the brightly colored paper, the bows, the ribbons, the tags ( that were specially labeled with codes yet the lovelies searched for theirs and had no trouble figuring out which was which nor did they have trouble with their multiplication tables). We visited relatives and addressed Christmas cards. We sang carols and attended (and participated in) the pageants. We attended and hosted the parties and we read the stories. We lit the candles and rode around looking at the lights. We watched the Christmas movies and the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

Life, during the weeks before Christmas were busy, yes. But it was a good busy. A busy that revolved around fun, laughter, joy... A busy that reflected that our hearts were full and overflowing with all things good, happy, loving... A busy that pulled us closer together with a bond secured by a love so deep that, no matter how hard they tried, no one could sever. A bond that lasts a lifetime and beyond.

That is the time that makes my Christmas season special. Meaningful. Wonderful.

Now that the lovelies are all grown up, they come to help with some of the preparations when they can. Of course, they are making their own preparatory traditions because this time is special to them as well. This year we had Christmas eve at my house and Christmas day at Birdie's new house. She and SILExtrordinaire wanted to host. And it was lovely! Maybe now that the nest is empty, I can just enjoy Christmas without 'doing' Christmas. Ah...the advantages of an empty nest. 


  1. Truly one of your best posts ever. It made me smile and feel happy as I was reading it. You are an awesome Mom!

    1. Thanks, Barb. I don't think I'd go with awesome, but I was involved. :)

  2. We joined our friends in their tradition of gingerbread house making for the second year in a row. I had never done that - not even the store bought kind. So it was a bit daunting but very fun. And apparently using hot glue guns is cheating when it comes to putting up the walls. But that's we do! :)

    1. Hot glue gun. I'm smacking my forehead. Why didn't I think of that?! LOL

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed this post and your photos. The times, they do change, and gracefully going along is best. Yes, there are advantages of an empty nest!! Happy new year, Pam! So glad we connected here.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad we connected as well. If y'all ever get up to Charleston, let me know!

  4. Ah, how fun to see the lovelies as they were growing up. And the one of you enchanted by the Christmas tree! Are those glass birds on the coffee table behind you? They look like glass peacocks. Beautiful! I hope you have a wonderful 2015, Pam.

    1. They are glass peacocks. They lived on the coffee table in Grandmother's living room for as long as I can remember. Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

  5. What a terrific memory! Thanks for participating!

    1. Thank YOU for hosting! And I still can't comment on your blog. :(

  6. Oh my goodness, I loved all of your memories! I thought I was the ONLY one who ever had to put up three live trees in one Christmas! We bought an artificial tree the following year, as well :)
    Kathy (from Reflections by Kathy)

  7. I so love it when you share. You are an awesome mom.
    I hope you have a most wonderful day and a very blessed New Years!!
    Take care my friend!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It makes me feel connected to everyone even though we may live far apart! Have a wonderful day!

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