Sunday, December 20, 2009

Presents and Parties

This is my fourth for the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. Once again you will find entries from myself, my Mom, and maternal Grandmother (in first person perspective) below.

Presents and Parties

Me: We never did holiday parties, but would celebrate with each of my parents' families at some point around the holiday. I loved visiting my mom's family at the holiday's. All of our cousins would draw names and do a gift exchange. The best part, besides family, was BINGO, which we played every year. Each family would contribute wrapped gifts that none of us kids knew about. When you won a game you got to pick a gift and open it. The gifts ranged from gift cards to candy to toilet paper wrapped with rocks so you couldn't guess what it was. We would always laugh when we opened those gifts, and after a couple years it became the highlight of our gathering. As far as gifts at home, I honestly can't recall one gift I received. I feel bad because my parents always worked hard to save up to buy us gifts. For me it was never about the gifts, but always about the family and traditions.

Mum: I remember my mom's mother and my mom's sister and her husband and son and my mom's brothers coming on Christmas Eve; we would open gifts; my favorite Gift from my Grandma Lindley was a watch that came with a Disney porcelain figurine/doll that was about 6-8 inches tall - maybe it was Snow White. I have no idea what happened to the watch or figurine but would I love to have that now! One year my Aunt gave us all pencils with our names imprinted on them - we thought that was pretty cool. My Grandma Miller always made us clothes for Christmas, often flannel pjs that always smelled just like her home (wood stove smell), what a comfort that scent was. I remember one Christmas my brother, one of my sisters and I woke up long before anyone else; we sat on the couch which was opposite the tree and used a flashlight to shine a light on to the gifts that were under the tree - even though no one else was up we dared not go look or touch anything. How well behaved were we?? We didn't get many gifts per child but because there were so many of us it seemed like hundreds of presents under that tree. We always seemed to get new board games and would spend a lot of time playing them.

G-Ma: My parents would do their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve because all of the shops in town had sales. We were too poor to buy things at full price, but we always got something. One year I got a set of paper dolls, of the Five Girls from Canada. I had them for years. We also did a gift exchange at school and every student received a small gift from teacher. The Kissling family would come over some years on Christmas morning. We would always have a big breakfast the years they came. I remember one of their boys got a bb gun and promptly put his thumb over the end and ended up with a big cut.

Santa and Stockings

This is my third entry for the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. Once again you will find entries from myself, my Mom, and maternal Grandmother (in first person perspective) below.

Santa and Stockings

Me:
Santa was always a big part of our holiday festivities. Santa would visit us on Christmas Eve night and we would open our gifts on Christmas morning. My mother worked nights as a nurse and we would have to wait until she returned home before we could even see the presents under the tree. To make sure we didn't sneak a peak, my dad would put a series of strips of tape across the hallway, and he could tell if we moved them. We never once dared to sneak past for fear of losing our Santa presents. Santa would also stuff our stockings with small toys, bath soaps, card games, etc. and leave one big gift for each of us under the tree.

Mum: Santa came during the night to our house, but our neighbors always had their Santa Claus gifts on Christmas Eve. I could never quite figure that one out. The year I was really starting to doubt Santa's existence there was BREAKING NEWS ALERT on TV - something was spotted flying through the sky - I clearly recall thinking he must be real then if it was on the news. Later that night I was trying to get to sleep and I heard my mom come up the stairs and open the attic door - I called her name and asked what she was doing. She mumbled something and then said "well you don't believe in Santa anymore, do you" and proceeded to get the presents out of the attic. Nope, not anymore I don't!!

G-Ma: We believed in Santa, oh God, yes we did. We looked forward to his visit all year. Our stockings would be filled with oranges, apples, and nuts most years. If there was extra money we would sometimes get a small toy in them, but that rarely happened.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Food

My second entry for the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, is titled Christmas Cookies and Holiday Food.  Once again you will find entries from myself, my Mom, and maternal Grandmother (in first person perspective) below.

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Food 

Me: Our house smelled of cookies from Thanksgiving to Christmas. My mom is an amazing baker and she always was making something. She would freeze them by putting them in metal tins and setting them on our screened in porch (I grew up in Wisconsin). I remember sneaking out to 'sample' the goods on a daily basis! Every Christmas Eve we would have a big dinner: chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls, cheese cake, etc. Before we could eat we would say grace and most years we would each say what we were thankful for. We would eat dinner by candle light on Mom's good china. I loved these "fancy" dinners, but hated hand washing Mom's china for fear of breaking it! Before we could open presents on Christmas morning we would have a big breakfast that my G-Ma would send over a few days prior. It was a feast: pancakes, waffles, eggs, sausage, hash browns, bacon, etc. Let's just say we never went hungry!

Mum: On Christmas Eve we would have oyster soup - I hated the oysters, but loved the broth. We would always have divinity, homemade peanut brittle and other candies. We were quite poor so the fresh fruit (apples and oranges) were always a treat.

G-Ma: On Christmas day we would have either have goose or a mince meat pie. My mom raised and sold geese so it would depend if she had any left, most of the neighbors bought them. If they were gone, we would have a mince meat pie - always from our own pork. There would also be potatoes, veggies, and pumpkin pie.

Christmas Trees and Ornaments

I've taken some liberty with the how I've decided to participate in the Geneablogger's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. I've decided to combine a few of the questions so that the stories would flow better.  I have asked my Mom and maternal Grandmother to answer the same prompts in an effort to have a generational view.  As usual, they accepted my request and you will find our memories written from the first person perspective below.

Christmas Trees and Ornaments

Me: We always had a real tree. My dad managed the local Christmas Tree Farm when I was a kid. Some years he would have a few trees picked out and other years we would just wander until we found one we loved, but we always cut it down and drug it to the truck together. We would decorate it together, with us kids hanging most of the ornaments. Each of us kids had a box of ornaments that were given to us over the years and we were the only ones who could hang those. Every year my Maternal G-Ma, who's thoughts are below, would give us an ornament. I have an amazing collection of Barbie ones from Hallmark. Even though I am 27, I still feel like a little kid when I proudly hang them on my tree. I hope I have a daughter someday who will appreciate them.

Mum: Odd, but I don't have any recollection if our tree was real or not; nor do I remember decorating it.

G-Ma: We always had a real tree. Dad and the boys [her 3 brothers] would go out into the woods and cut one down. First, us kids would always string popcorn and cranberries and hang it on the tree. Mom liked tinsel and would put it on the tree after us kids had finished placing the few family ornaments we had. We were poor and didn't have anything fancy, but my Mom really liked the sparkle of the tinsel. After Christmas we would put the tree outside and the birds would eat the popcorn and cranberries.