Blogmas Day 7: Today I am looking back at Christmas, and sharing with you what it was like as a child. This is what sticks in my head in my memories. I will write as if it were “one Christmas” and make it as vivid for you, as if you were there too. While I am picking one certain year to write about, the exact facts may not have happened THAT particular year but in some year around that time.
Childhood Christmas Memories, Columbia, TN circa 1969, six years old, almost seven.
Sonya stepped off the school bus, walked the short driveway, and came into the side door of the house through the carport, where she and her next door neighbor, Sandra, two years older than her, played and talked a lot. Today, Sandra went to get her homework done, the air was chilly anyway, and so Sonya went on inside her home where her mother was waiting for her arrival. She set her books on the kitchen table, and her Mom said “no go put that in your room unless you have homework to get, but there is a surprise!”
Sonya dropped her books off in her room and came back through the hall to ask her Mom what the surprise was. But as she came to the end of the hallway, she saw it. The tree was up. Her Momma had put the tree up while she was at school. She did that every year the week after Thanksgiving. Seeing the tree, suddenly made everything exciting to Sonya. Thanksgiving was over, and the Christmas season was kicking in.
Her Momma asked her what she wanted to ask Santa for Christmas. Maybe a portable 8 track player and some clothes? A bean bag chair? Sonya grabbed the JC Penny catalog sometimes and circled things she liked so Santa could find them later and surprise her.
The days passed so slowly waiting for Christmas Day. At school the teachers passed out art work for Sonya’s class to color – busy work – they colored hand drawn candles, glued cotton on Santa’s beard, decorated and made Christmas stockings out of construction paper, and glued candy canes to art work. Everyone was happy and cheerful and classes were extra fun. Sonya’s school had Christmas programs and learned songs and sang them as the parents came and watched.
At her church various groups came together and ate or fellowshipped in parties. Her Mom and Dad’s class often went out to eat while Sonya stayed with a baby sitter. Sonya loved it because the baby sitter would fix either Chef Boy R D pizza or spaghetti.
At Sonya’s Nanny’s house, (her grandmother on her mother’s side), Nanny was getting ready for Christmas too. She had a silver tree with a light that would shine on it and it would change colors on the tree. It was magical to watch.
Sometimes her Aunt Martha would be there and one time Aunt Martha was there sewing in the living room on a green and white polka dot outfit. Sonya noticed she was sewing but thought nothing of it. She was too busy picking up the packages under the tree and shaking them. There was one from her great grandmother Granny Dunn, and it looked like it said “Corn Puppet” inside the package. She could barely make it out through the thin paper. Sonya loved to shake and inspect the packages both at her grandmother’s house and at her own. Each day she would check to see if more packages were added. Each day more appeared. And each day she would shake and inspect and try to guess what was in her gifts.
Sonya’s Mom was always in a hurry trying to find a “bull” as a gag gift for Nanny. Grandaddy bought a bull for the farm and Nanny didn’t like it because she worried the bull would be mean and kill Grandaddy. She once mentioned that in front of Sonya and Sonya began bawling at the thought of a bull killing her grandaddy. They had to remember how sensitive Sonya’s ears were and how serious she took everything. But Sonya’s Mom always bought Nanny a bull for Christmas as a gag gift after Grandaddy went ahead and bought the bull, despite Nanny’s begging him not to. She also bought Nanny red birds as she collected them. So Sonya’s Mom spent a lot of time searching for these items in the stores.
Sonya’s Mom shopped early and got that done because the men in the family would need help with their shopping at the last minute. Sonya’s Grandad would always ask Sonya’s Mom to go help shop for Nanny. Sonya’s Dad liked to do a little shopping on his own sometimes to give something personal from him too. Sometimes he asked Sonya to wrap the gifts for her Mom when she was old enough and could do it.
The week before Christmas was always so exciting. School parties were happening and school was letting out for the rest of the year. The air was getting especially colder, but not much snow yet. Church festivities were in high gear, and sometimes the church took a bus to sing carols at the nursing home and at shut in’s houses. Baked goods were passed from house to house, friend to friend. All types of candies and fancy crackers and home made treats were consumed with smiling faces. Sonya and her Mom always had gifts to give to her friends too for the last week of school. This year Sonya’s mom had made ponchos for her close buds.
Sonya’s house and her Nanny’s house was filled with all things aglow. The house was warm, the trees shone brightly, decorated beautifully, and everyone hyped up for the big day. We watched Christmas specials on TV at night and it seemed like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would never come.
Finally Christmas Eve arrived. Daddy would call his Mom, Sonya’s other grandmother, also known as “Mam-ma” and ask if she would come in and spend the night on Christmas Eve. She would say she wasn’t sure, that the dogs or Grandaddy would need her. Her Grandaddy didn’t really like to be away from home, but her Daddy would put Sonya on the phone to Mam-ma and Sonya would beg her to come in. Mam-ma couldn’t refuse and agreed to come. Daddy would go get her the afternoon of Christmas Eve and Mam-ma came in the door with coconut cake for Nanny and Fudge for Sonya and her family. Mam-ma would have always scraped up some money to buy a present for Sonya. A scrapbook, or a little notebook and pens, or something that she knew Sonya would enjoy. Sonya’s Mom usually had homemade custard and it would be consumed on Christmas Eve after dinner. (Non alcoholic that is.)
Mam-ma would stay in Sonya’s room with her and they giggled and laughed and listened for Santa and his reindeer on the roof, while laying in bed and eventually falling asleep. They told bear stories, stories they each made up to pass the time until the excitement wore off and sleep would come. They actually heard noises on the roof and Sonya asked Mam-ma if Santa was real that her friends had said he wasn’t. Mam-ma said that Santa was real as long as you believed. So from then on Sonya always believed that Santa was real. And even in 2021, Santa still came to see Sonya, after all those years. And Sonya believes he will come in 2022 as well.
Christmas morning finally came, and everyone would get up and wait for Nanny and Grandaddy to come over. Sonya was allowed to open her stocking while waiting and could see what Santa left for her. They didn’t live but about 3 miles away – if that -so once Nanny and Grandaddy arrived, coats came off and everyone gathered around the tree in the living room. Gift were passed, and opened all at once. Laughter and oooh’s and ahhh’s followed and much conversation over the gifts opened. The living room would be so filled with paper and bows all around and everyone would head to the kitchen and den as Mom would get started on her country ham breakfast.
The dining table was always set perfectly the night before with a fancy table cloth, Christmas dishes, candles, and Mom would set into cooking with country ham, biscuits, red eye gravy, eggs, hash browns, grits, and orange juice. Preserves and jams and butter filled the table.
Sonya loved to have one biscuit with redeye gravy and another with jam. After breakfast, and dishes put away, Nanny and Grandaddy went back to their house and Sonya would play with her toys and presents for a little while. Mam-ma wanted to go back home and so Sonya’s Dad took her home. Soon it was time to go to Nanny and Grandaddy’s house. Around 2 pm Sonya and her family went to Nanny and Grandaddy’s house to open the packages around their tree. The smells were so wonderful when you set food into the house. Nanny’s Christmas dinner was cooking and smelled of ham and green beans and corn pudding and squash casserole.
Christmas music played in the background from Nanny’s stereo – The Statler Brothers Christmas album. Nanny had fudge dishes sat about by her sofa and chairs. Everyone seemed to prefer the buckeyes over the fudge but both were good.
Packages were opened around the beautiful tree. Sonya opened her corn puppet package and was surprised to find it was a corn popper, not a corn puppet. And she opened another box and it was a green and white polka dotted outfit that Aunt Martha had made right in front of her. She got a spirograph kit and a lite brite. And all kinds of nice things and fun to play with.
After the gift opening and all cleaned up, Nanny would put dinner on the table. Nanny’s dining table was beautiful. It seated all of us. She cooked a ham and had a lot of vegetables on the side. She had a nice looking Christmas salad at each plate that looked like jello with fruit and a bit of mayo on top. There was iced tea and lemon, and dessert. Nanny was a good cook and her meal was always exceptional and conversation always good over the dinner table.
After that, the evening had grown dark. Sonya and her parents headed back to their house. Sonya and her Dad sat in the living room with just the lights glowing on the tree with presents opened, laying underneath. Sonya said “I hate it when it’s over”. Sonya’s Dad said “yes, it goes by so fast – life goes by fast but we can look forward to next year”. Sonya said “yes, but it’s so sad to see it go after looking forward to it for so long”.
Sonya’s family left their tree up til after the New Year. Christmas had come and gone. She enjoyed playing with her new things during the cold winter months. Her birthday was January 3rd just a little over a week from Christmas. She got money mostly for her birthday as everyone was tired of shopping and the weather was really cold and everyone wanted to be inside. So whatever she didn’t get for Christmas she could buy with birthday money. But her Momma always made a cake and let her invite a friend over for a sleepover on her birthday (or on the weekend nearest the birthday as friends couldn’t spend a school night). Her Momma fixed her spaghetti because that was her favorite food for her birthday meal.
Soon after, a snow came as always – usually around Jan 5 through the 12th and again another storm in mid February. Sonya and her neighborhood friends would slide down a big hill next to her house on trash bags. Sonya’s Mom would make hot Dr. Pepper and add lemon to it and also would make snow cream. She and her Mom would work a puzzle. Sonya and her Mom came to love a good snow day.
Then Valentine’s would soon come and it was fun to celebrate by giving and getting Valentine’s at school. Sonya’s Mom would leave a Valentine gift on her bed when she came home from school. At school, she would always save the cutest Valentine for the cutest fellow. 😉
And then before you knew it Spring Break arrived. Then school was out. A trip to Daytona Beach happened, Fall came, leaves fell, the fair came to town, Halloween came, Thanksgiving again, and then finally another Christmas time. And it all started over.
Much is the same now, Christmas is still the most special time of the year, but the year spins around much faster now somehow. No longer do I await it, but I wish it would slow down!
I hope you enjoyed a typical year in my life as a child. This represents what most of them were like from year to year. My sister was born when I was ten. And then eventually I was dating and had boyfriends and closer to my late teens would be doing some Christmasing with them. Then later college and then later marriage made for some interesting times. Lots of life changes until things settled more in my thirties. But even through all that, most of the Christmases were wonderful memories of love, fun, laughter, giving.
Mom came to be bitter with us that we quit spending the exact day of Christmas Day with her. I know this was a change from how things used to be but with my sister and I and each with kids of our own, me out of town, both of us with spouses and larger extended families, it just didn’t work out to be there on the exact day for everyone so we picked the day that everyone could be there, which to me was the more important part. Now that she is here and nearby though we can bring that tradition back of being together on Christmas Day. Life comes full circle.
There are a few years where I was sick on Christmas. A stomach bug, bad colds, flu, and those were never much fun. I think about five or six times I’ve been sick on Christmas itself. And then one time…..at age twenty-nine….I had a baby on Christmas Day! On Nanny’s birthday! On Jesus’ birthday! While I’d rather not be giving birth on Christmas it ended up being just fine. And most of all we had the best Christmas gift ever, my Katebug!
- George got his meds for gout. He’s feeling a bit better already and he can walk better. The steel toed shoes are killing him at work. But he worked from home today and then went to get his prescription and took it and also went to our financial meeting for us. Since I missed Monday and am off on Friday, I skipped out.
- I got Month End finished for November (paying payroll taxes that are paid monthly). And so I feel pretty good about taking off.
- Friday is an important day for me to take PTO and I’m glad I decided to still take it even though I was out Monday and used a PTO for that. In our company we don’t get extra pay for sick pay. You have to use your vacation pay. So they started calling it PTO so they can’t say we don’t have sick pay, LOL LOL LOL. Either way, I still have 3 weeks since I’m salaried. Call it what you will. I’m grateful to have it! I will get a chunk done with decorating, finishing Christmas cards, and cleaning and so forth.
- So tomorrow is my Friday.
- Mom sent us some Omaha Steaks! It had lots of things in it. Steak, chicken, hot dogs, apple tartlets and a couple of other things. We were excited to get it and had just enough room in the freezer.
- I hate a slight bit of dizziness this morning when I laid back down for a snooze. I immediately got up b/c I was afraid I’d go back into a full blown vertigo situation. But I never felt dizzy any more during the day. And felt ok to drive. I am afraid to sleep on my right side because that is the ear and the side that can go into dizziness. I’m starting to dread bed time now but I’ve prayed that God gets rid of the evil spirit that is called “fear” because there should be no fear of bed time!
- My mood is elevated having finished month end, and being off Friday. PTO days are so special and hard to come by. A day off to get things done is so special. I can’t think of anything more fun these days than having a day to get things done. If you have been here with me on my blog you know what my to do lists are like. I won’t get any of my personal stuff done – this is all for Christmas. Most of the personal stuff never gets done but I will spend 2023 trying, while I add even more to my plate all across the board. It should be interesting how it all shakes out.
That is about all I know.
What memories stand out in YOUR MIND from your childhood. I’d love to hear. Who cares if your comments are as big as my post today? lol