Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Memories

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I have so many great Christmas memories. We didn't have much money but that wasn't what made Christmas exciting--it was just "in the air". I remember crunching on the snow crusted sidewalks of Thompson--the manger scene atop the REA building and the speakers blaring Christmas music as we walked down main street. People who never spoke to you any other time smiled and shouted "Merry Christmas!"

Mom would be busy baking and listening to Christmas music. Everytime "Silver Bells" was played she'd stop and dab at her eyes--perhaps remembering her past Christmases in the city of Des Moines. She'd tell stories of her Christmas gatherings as a young girl. The men--Grandpa, Uncle Red, Uncle Luther would gather in the kitchen and sneak a little Christmas cheer. She talked of ice skating, gifts, going downtown to Yonkers and seeing all the Christmas decorations and enjoying the bustle of the "city". Oh how I wish I had written down all she told us. She put the love of the season in our hearts.

Then there was the big Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street. Every year someone would donate a HUGE tree and the town employees would set it in the middle of the street and decorate it with lights--one year someone placed packages beneath the tree--I think it was our pastor's wife. Our little Baptist Church was on Main street and the tree was right next to it. After Sunday night services we'd play outside and sing around the Christmas tree. There was nothing more beautiful than looking up toward the street lights and watching the softly falling snow--we'd stick out our tongues and catch the big flakes.

Every Saturday we'd go to church and practice for our Christmas program. We'd spend hours going over and over our parts--I got to play Mary one year. . . Finally the night of the program came and most of the times it would go off as practiced. Mom told about one year--I don't remember this--when I had a loose thread on my dress and I started pulling on it and unraveled my skirt. When I stood to say my part--Mom who was in charge of the program said, "Hmm. She didn't look like that when we left home. . . "

The program was my favorite--with the Christmas tree and lights being the only lights on in the church as we re-inacted the Christmas Story. I imagined the night Jesus was born--how cold He must have been! What was it like in that stable? What was it like when the angels appeared in the heavens singing "Glory to God in the Highest"? What a glorious night it must have been!

After the program we'd get a bag of peanuts with hard candy and chocolate drops (Tom still likes those nasty things!) We'd get an apple and orange and a small gift from our Sunday School teacher. The joy that filled the little church that night would follow us home. I remember sitting in our little darkened living room with only the tree lights and thinking it was the most beautiful place on earth. Christmas cards were taped to a big round mirror in the dining room and all around the doorway between the living and dining room. we made mobiles out of old Christmas cards--snowflakes out of typing paper and paper chains of red and green construction paper. And the fun of stringing popcorn--eating half of it and pricking our fingers on the needle as we tried to push through a stubborn piece! Sometimes we would spray "snow" on the widows and mirrors--placing stencils down first --then when you took the stencils away it would say "Merry Christmas" or you'd see Christmas figures in the snow. Often the widows would ice over creating a natural snow look.

I'd LOVE to read your Christmas memories. Please click on the comments and write your favorite memory.