Friday, December 17, 2010
Growing up, our family always celebrated the Holidays to the fullest extents. Mom and Dad always went all out to make things fun and festive. Camping was a favorite past time for our family and on some holidays that is what we chose to do. But Thanksgiving and Christmas was always spent at home.
My memories of the holidays always include feelings of warmth, coziness, music, wonderful smells from the kitchen and always hearing my Granddaddy's spoon stirring his coffee when I first wake in the mornings. Where ever we happened to have been stationed, our grandparents always made a point of being there with us (except for our three years in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). One of the greatest parts of the holidays was the anticipation of the arrival of Grand momma and Granddaddy. They would always stay at least a month or two and since our mom was an only child, we were lucky enough to not have to share them with anyone else.
Mom and Dad made Christmas so special and fun that Sissie and I were 13 and 14 before we found out there was no Santa. (yes we were snooping and found the dolls hidden under the cabinet in the master bath. ) It didn't take away any of the joy though. Our family lived to play board games and construct puzzles. So we knew there would be plenty of those under the tree. Monopoly was our favorite and Dad would take no prisoners. We always got dolls, , a lot of arts and crafts, clothes (from the grandparents of course) and stockings full of goodies.
Christmas Eve before bed mom always made chips and dip (she only made it on special occasions) and hot dogs or sandwiches. Grandmomma could always be counted on for Hot Cocoa. (the homemade kind and the only kind I fix for my kids now). Dad would always get us up around 2 or 3am and that is when we would have our Christmas. Dad always felt that waiting for the morning would take away from enjoying the lights of Christmas in the daytime. So nighttime it has always been.
Christmas morning we would all drag out slowly except Mom and Grandmomma who would be in the kitchen early. Tradition has dictated that we have the same meal for Christmas dinner every year with only a few slight variations. Turkey and Dressing at Thanksgiving, the same for Christmas only with a baked ham added. Pickled Beet Eggs, Moldy Salad, Green Beans, Cranberry sauce, Giblet Gravy and Sweet Potato Souffle. (One year Grandmomma tried to ramp it up by doing an Oyster dressing. By the end of the meal all of the oysters had been dug out and eaten and all the dressing was still in the dish. So scrap that one. Another year she decided to add Duck to the dinner. When the duck came out of the oven he was the most beautiful golden brown roasted duck you ever saw. Moments later, that duck gave up on us and collapsed flatter than a fritter. Poor thing looked like it had been run over by a steam roller. Another year she fancied it up with a cheese ball and crackers.) It makes for good memories now.
I have such nostalgic memories of the toys that we got over the years and look back on now. Some of them were pretty dangerous. Like the year mom bought us the Klackers. Remember them? They were later taken off the market because of injuries. mom took them away from us when she heard about some kids getting hit in the temples.
One game we had that always caused a lot of fun and arguments was Hands Down. Boy could we get rough with that one.
I loved the Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear soap we got. Of course after you wet it the first time the fuzz was all gone. Also I loved getting the Dinosaur soap from Sinclair Oil.
One of the stranger but most loved outdoor toys we got was called the Red Eye Ball. I don't remember us ever using it as a weapon but I'm quite sure that it might have been thrown in anger a time or two.
Red Eye Ball – This was a ball with six long protrusions that were used as handles or as weapons. It could never be sold in today’s litigious environment but we children of the 60’s had no problem playing with it. Dodge ball was great! You could throw the ball a lot harder with one of the handles and it caused a lot more pain when it hit someone.
My favorite toy of all time was my Talky Crissy Doll. Her hair would grow and she would say 12 different phrases. She was also the last doll I received. Of course in all the moves over the year I have lost her but she has lived on in my most favorite memories.
Always loved hearing dad playing his favorite Christmas album (yes I said album) of the Beach Boys. Songs like "The Man With All The Toys" , "Little Saint Nick", and "Santa's Beard"
Other favorites of the season include never missing a showing of Charlie Brown's Christmas and of course Rudolph and Frosty.
Over the years the Christmas tree has changed in our family. Some years we would go to the lot and pick out a live one, some were big, some small, some were artificial. But of course in the 60's it was all about keeping up with the Joneses. Enter the Aluminum Christmas tree with the revolving colored light behind it. Not only did it look like it would draw lightening strikes, anytime you walked near it you would get a cut. Sure kept us kids away from it.
Of course there are a million other memories that live on and tons of things I still remember. Like Hippity Hop, play dough, Tinker toys, Kerplunk, and so on.
But no matter how many memories I still have and cherish, my mission now is to make sure that some day, my children and grandchildren will look back on their childhoods and love and cherish the memories that they will have. To enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the season. To take comfort in how blessed they are and to really know the reason for the season.