Some of my very favorite memories of Christmas have nothing to do with the cost of presents. In fact, most of the best of these tales have nothing at all to do with money.
The sights and smells of my holiday have changed considerably over the years.
I am far too busy to stay at home and bake homemade goodies. In the 1960’s my mother had a litany of Christmas cookies, candies and even fruitcake. As she progressed in age, she felt guilty that she did not have the energy and time to prepare these. Especially her “Swedish Gems” cookies. Hers was the only fruitcake known to man, that did not cause recipients to run away in horror!
In the very early years of my childhood, after I had been adopted by my father and moved into the Edgevale house. Christmas eve was a very busy event as we always visited friends and neighbors. Of coarse, that was back when people actually purchased put their trees up on Christmas eve. It was also a time when everyone knew all their neighbors.
The older, more established neighbors had a sort-of open house with lots of food and drink. Mother made either fruitcake or her famous Swedish gem cookies, which she presented in colorful holiday tins. She would get dressed up in her finest holiday gear and we always ate too much and laughed and talked and shared.
In 1963, My mother worked keeping books for the man across the way who owned a five and dime shop after his wife suffered a stroke. Mother scrimped and saved every extra bit of money. She brought a baby doll, and lots of scraps of different fabric, from which she made and entire layette for my “baby Susie” as I named her. Daddy made a darling little rocking cradle for her and mother painted it pink.
In 1965, My father was laid off from his job at Chrysler and had to resort to driving a cab and tending bar. Both of these jobs were working for good family friends who knew my daddy needed a job and would work hard. Mom supplemented her income by working cleaning local houses. I now remember how very unhappy this made my father. However, we managed to have a very joyous Christmas.
The Christmas of 1968, I managed to save a bit of money from my first real job at the five and dime and went shopping at Sears and Roebuck. I bought my mother a lovely blue woolen scarf and matching gloves. I brought daddy a nice red tartan plaid woolen shirt. Both of these items were $5.00 each. I even bought a Beatles album (I think Sgt Pepper?) for my best friend and a new dog dish for our poodle, Pierre.
By the time the 70s came around I was in high school and abhorred spending time with any member of my family. By then all of our established neighbors had moved to the suburbs or passed away. We were the very last to leave our little subdivision. Soon, I would have a family of my own. Being in the Air Force, we always seemed to be elsewhere for the holidays. On the years we did make it home, we had to endure no less than 4 Christmas dinners.
Which brings us to the present. My children have grown and have busy lives of their own. We seldom spend the holidays together. My hubby and I usually spend December 24th and 25th working. This year, for the first time in years, he will be home and available until after the new year. We will have a quiet Christmas eve with our 4-legged-children enjoying our fireplace, some brandy and most likely, an episode of Sherlock Holmes.
I wish all my readers and friends the very best holiday! I would love to hear from you, please feel free to leave comments. See you in 2012!