Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Childhood Christmas Memories

I loved Christmas!  As a young girl, I would sit in a large upholstered rocking chair beside our Christmas tree; rocking, rocking, and waiting. It seemed that Christmas would never arrive!

This is a picture of our home in Concord, California where we lived when I was in my teens. My mother loved to have lots of presents under our tree, so she would beautifully wrap up our school supplies besides our big presents. One year I bought a large sausage for my step-father, Lew Pearson. I wrapped it and put it under the tree.  The Irish Setter (the large red dog), Kelly, was my brother's dog. He found the sausage and had himself a feast.

At Christmas time we made lots of cookies which I loved to decorate.We made star, bell, and ball ornament cookies. Mom also made date nut bread, and cranberry bread. I loved to eat it with cheese.

When I was little, my dad worked nights to buy lots of presents for us. We always opened one present on Christmas Eve. It was our Christmas pajamas which my mom made for my brother and I. We wore them to bed that nigh, so we were ready for my dad's Christmas movie the next morning. I could barely sleep - I was so excited!

I loved Christmas candles. I remember a big red candle we used year after year. I liked to dip my finger in the hot wax and let it cool and peal the wax off. When I was ten and we were living in Athens, Georgia, Mom tried making candles. She cooked blocks of white paraffin wax and we put some of my crayons in it for color. When it was all melted, we poured the wax into cardboard milk cartons. After it was cool, we ripped off the cardboard and there was a large red candle. Next, we used a hand mixer and whipped up some of the white paraffin wax. We used a knife and spread the white wax over the red candle. It hardened and looked like frosting covering the candle. When the candle was lit, the red shown through the white "frosting". It was fun to do.

When I was in my teens, I helped with the Christmas decorating and wrapping. I spread it all out on my bed and wrapped for hours.  Our old dog, Teddy,  is "helping" me wrap.

My dad would spend days working on his Christmas cards. He wrote personal notes to all his family and friends. Mom knitted, and sewed presents for us. Christmas was a busy, fun time filled with lots of good food, sparkling lights, presents, and Christmas Carols.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Decorating Our Christmas Tree

Image result for bubble lights

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we would go to a tree lot and pick out our tree. My mom was always concerned about finding just the right size and shape. She didn't want to get the tree too soon for it needed to make it til New Years without its needles falling off. We put the tree in a bucket, made sure it was straight (a big project which involved a lot of adjusting), and kept it watered. When the tree was up,we opened the large 3 1/2 foot packing box that contained all our Christmas decorations. It was so fun to gently lift out and unwrap each decoration. They were like old friends.

Dad put the bubble lights on the tree. They were shaped like a clear candle, and when they got hot the colored liquid in the candle would bubble. (Later, they were outlawed because they started fires. Now they have made safe bubble lights.)

Next, we carefully placed on shiny glass balls. In our teens Jim and I decorated white silk balls with sequins and rick-rack. They didn't break. I loved carefully designing each ball.

After the balls were on, my mom handed the lead ice icicles to my brother and me a few at a time. Now they have light metal coated plastic ice icicles. We had to watch our old cocker spaniel dog, because he would eat the ice icicles then the lead would make him sick. Putting on the ice icicles was an art. Under my mom's careful direction, each ice icicle had to gently draped on each branch. Throwing on a handful was not allowed (I tried it). All branches had to be evenly covered. It seemed like it took hours!

Finally, there was our sparkling creation. I looked at it for hours. It seemed almost magical!

Cutting Our Own Christmas Tree

Image result for georgia pine forest

We usually went to a tree lot and picked out a Christmas tree, except for one year. I was ten and Jimmy was eight.  My dad was receiving his Navy Officer Supply training in Athens Georgia. We were renting a new home a few miles out from the town and about half a mile behind our house was a pine forest. Since our landlord had given us permission to cut ourselves a Christmas tree, my brother, dad, and I cheerfully headed down the road to the forest. After some careful hunting, we found the perfect tree. It was beautiful with thick branches all around. Dad swung his ax. Down came the tree. Picking it up, we began our trek back to our house.  Shortly, we stopped, panting, and took another look at the tree. We all agreed that it was too large and cut off a few feet from the bottom. We went a little further and chopped off some more. Finally, we arrived at our house with a tree about half the original size. We couldn't get the tree in the door and had to cut off another six feet. We learned that a tree that looks small in a forest can be very large in a house!